Integration through activation? : Unfolding paradox for mobilizing will to self-help

Tomoko Watarai


This paper addresses the question of how the activating welfare state carries out the paradoxical agenda of “help for self-help” in practice. Applying Niklas Luhmann’s concept of “inclusion” to local strategies of activating, i.e. “integrating” migrants in Munich, Germany, I articulate the following: the activation of individuals is fundamentally an excessive task for social intervention. Inevitably, it encounters a considerable amount of uncertainty, which is not controllable by social or external measures. Attempts to eliminate all uncontrollable elements are empirically unattainable, whether imposing coercive punishment or making use of an entire engagement of volunteers. To the contrary, social systems depend on whether they can develop mechanisms to maintain room for uncontrollability in their communication. Social workers play a mediating role in this constellation by enhancing the sensitivity of organizations, thus opening them up for multiple inclusions instead of a unified, normative integration.

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JCSW was founded in 2006 and is currently hosted by University of Stavanger, in cooperation with University of Agder and Nord University. From 2010 onwards it is published bi-anually.

ISSN: 0809-9936