- When doing your best is not good enough
- Shaping recognition in sheltered workshops: The interplay of activating institutions, professionals, co-workers and a sociologist
- Award date
- 2 October 2018
- Number of pages
- Document type
- PhD thesis
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
Labour market participation holds a big promise: it would give financial, social and emotional gains like recognition. This holds also, or maybe especially, for people with mild intellectual disabilities who have suffered (and often still suffer) from social exclusion. But when policy proclaims that everybody should be able to feel valued and recognised, what is often underestimated is the power of institutions to narrowly define the ways in which people can be recognised. In her dissertation, Melissa Sebrechts focuses on the experiences of recognition of young men working in sheltered workshops in the Netherlands and Portugal. Such experiences appear to be shaped by the interplay of activating institutions, professionals, the workers, and herself, the researcher. Through intensive periods of participant observation, the author traces the different forms that recognition empirically takes, and the sometimes-explosive unintended consequences that arise in the Dutch workshops. An individualising discourse of participation limits young men’s possibilities to feel recognised, driving them to seek recognition through other, streetwise, channels. The Portuguese case serves as a contrasting case to refine and strengthen the link between discourse and experiences of recognition. It shows how a more communalising discourse of participation gives rise to forms of recognition that — under current labour market conditions — are more accessible and inclusive to the workers in the sheltered workshops. Theoretically, the thesis seeks to contribute to the ‘sociologisation’ of recognition. On the level of policy it argues for letting ‘love’ play a bigger role on the work floor.
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