Category Archives: Uncategorized

Two new articles accepted

New research from the marketization in Europe team has just been accepted for publication, one on the macroeconomy of Europe and one on the microeconomies of European public services.

One study forthcoming in Capital and Class, “The state and class discipline: European labour market policy after the financial crisis”provides an explanation for the persistence of public policy ideas through the economic crisis. Drawing on Marxist and Kaleckian ideas around the concept of ‘class discipline’, Charles Umney, Ian Greer, Ozlem Onaran, and Graham Symon argue that under financialisation, the need for states to implement policies that discipline the working class is intensified, even if these policies do little to enable (and may even counteract) future stability.  Full text can be found here.

A second study, Creaming and Parking in Marketized Employment Services, an Anglo-German Comparison, forthcoming in Human Relations, examines the consequences of marketization in front-line public services. Ian Greer, Lisa Schulte, and Graham Symon examine ‘creaming and parking’, in which the least needy clients are more likely to be selected for assistance. They identify two mechanisms through which marketization is conducive to this effect: the rise of commercial models of services that are responsive to incentives to cream and park and the decline of noncommercial models where creaming and parking is something to be avoided. Full text can be downloaded here.



Book launches in Greenwich and Berlin

A pair of launch events are scheduled for our new book on employment services. One is at the Wissenshaftszentrum Berlin (WZB) on 15 November 2017. The other is at the University of Greenwich on 17 November 2017. Both will be at 4 PM.

To register for the London event, please contact and to register for the Berlin event, please contact

Many thanks to our very generous hosts, Sian Moore at the University of Greenwich and Dieter Plehwe and Lena hip at WZB. Many thanks as well to the confirmed speakers: Chiara Benassi (King’s), Matt Vidal (Loughborough), and John McInally (PCS) in London and Karen Jaehrling (Duisburg) in Berlin.

New book: Marketization of employment services

A new marketization book has come out this summer, published by Oxford University Press. ‘The Marketization of Employment Services: Dilemmas  of Europe’s Work-first Welfare States’ looks at the way that governments have used competition to re-engineer services for the unemployed, and the consequences for workers, managers, and policymakers.

The book presents findings from a research project funded by the Hans-Boeckler-Project drawing on more than 100 interviews and a range of other sources from Denmark, Germany, and the UK. This is coauthored by Ian Greer from Cornell (and at the time of the project Greenwich), Karen Breidahl and Fleming Larsen from Aalborg, and Matthias Knuth from Duisburg-Essen (now emeritus). The book also contains contributions from other members of the project team: Graham Symon from Greenwich, Lisa Schulte from Middlesex, and Johannes Kirsch from Duisburg-Essen.

Our hope with this book is to move beyond the mainstream view that markets have immense potential powers to solve policy challenges and the frequently made observation that markets don’t deliver on their promises. By looking empirically and qualitatively at what these markets are, and how workers and managers in the services respond to them, we hope to show how price-based competition has changed the character of these services. Rather than looking at performance effects, we argue that different kinds of markets create different tradeoffs between the goods that policymakers are trying to pursue.

For more information, visit the publishers’ website or get in touch with the authors ( We expect in late 2017 to hold seminars in Berlin, London, Denmark, and the US to launch the book and debate its findings. We will post the schedule here when the dates are set.

Alternatives to punitive workfare systems: evidence from the Parisian suburbs

Marketization researchers have just blogged about some recent findings on schemes to activate the unemployed in the Parisian banlieues. We identify a promising alternative to the harshly punitive activation schemes delivered by for-profit firms that dominate in Britain and that can be found elsewhere in Europe as well.

The CERIC blog run by our friends at Leeds University now provides a summary of the recently accepted paper by Lisa Schulte (Middlesex), Ian Greer (Cornell), Charles Umney (Leeds), Katia Iankova (Greenwich) and Graham Symon (Greenwich). The blog post is here. The article can be downloaded here.

TEMS: final report submitted to the ERC

The TEMS project ran from the beginning of 2013 to the end of 2016. The marketization network continues operating, with former team members working at Cornell, Leeds, Greenwich, Middlesex, and the Greek Government and ongoing collaborations with colleagues in Britain, France, Finland, Germany, and the US. Team members are hard at work on book projects, articles, and follow-on research projects.

Highlights of the final report have been published on the WERU Greenwich blog:

Labour market norms on the London and Paris jazz scenes

By Charles Umney (November 2015)

Musicians are highly vulnerable to poor working conditions. Practices such as playing for free, and even schemes such as ‘pay to play’ are widespread, and the desire of many musicians to perform can be exploited by clients who dress ‘exposure’ up as a valid substitute for payment. These problems were highlighted by the Musicians’ Union (MU) report “The Working Musician” (2012), which showed that the majority of British musicians earn less than £20000 per year, despite having higher than average levels of training and education. Previous research by TEMS team members, which draws on qualitative interviews with freelance musicians in London and Paris, has shown how the prevalence of precarious and poorly-remunerated work in music makes the profession inaccessible for many people.

How can musicians counter these problems? Trade unions such as the MU have sought to proliferate guideline minimum prices for engagements, and to raise awareness of the dangers of unpaid work through campaigns such as “Work not Play”. But since live music work is so often accessed via personal contact networks, a more important influence on the labour market in many circumstances may be the informal ideas and expectations musicians themselves collectively develop around what constitutes acceptable or unacceptable terms. Whenever they are offered work, musicians have to make individual decisions about what kind of prices they should ask for or accept, and this can sometimes be a complicated question, especially when there are lots of other motivations to take work that aren’t related to the money (e.g. potential for exposure, potential to build networks, potential to develop artistic projects). Musicians are conscious of these issues and do discuss them: our research in London, for instance, showed that people who started offering or accepting work for excessively low fees could be ostracised.

Widely-accepted norms around prices are important for individuals because they help musicians address knowledge gaps. Often, when musicians are offered work, potential clients or agents will ask them to name a price without offering much contextual information (e.g. size of budget, their expectations, or how many other quotes are being solicited). Strong collective expectations are important in helping musicians address these kinds of non-transparent ‘spot market’ situations. Many have a strong instinctive idea of what the ‘going rate’ should be in various contexts just from interacting and discussing with other musicians, completely independent of official MU guidelines. But, this is an instinctive knowledge which is rarely adapted to context. For instance, our research uncovered cases where bands would reflexively quote £150 per performer, whether the engagement in question was a small local function for friends or a large banking industry event in a distant city where astronomically expensive bottles of champagne are flowing.

The addition of French data to our study of musicians looked at similar issues but in a different context. In France, musicians can gain access to the intermittents du spectacle system, whereby they receive a guaranteed monthly income to compensate for periods where they have less work (or where they are doing work that would otherwise remain unpaid, like rehearsing or writing). But each individual musician has to undertake a certain amount of work in a given period (507 hours’ worth in 10.5 months, to be precise), and it can be difficult for them to meet these eligibility criteria. It is especially hard when clients and venue owners try to avoid taxes by hiring musicians on an informal, cash-in-hand basis (these don’t count usually towards the 507 hours musicians need to accrue).

As a result, for many French musicians, whether certain jobs will enable them to retain their status as an intermittent du spectacle, and hence continue receiving social insurance payments, overrides in importance the question of how much a client will pay. French musicians tended to be more reluctant to talk openly about price expectations with their peers than British counterparts. This shows how, when there are strict individual eligibility criteria to access important social support systems, more informal collective ways of regulating prices on freelancer labour markets are weakened. Moreover, anarchistic ideological currents are also influential in some sections of French jazz, leading to the stigmatisation of State-mandated social welfare systems.

My recent article (available here: is therefore somewhat pessimistic about the prospects for unions alone to significantly regulate working conditions on freelancer labour markets. Efforts by them to do so are welcome, but they will only be effective if musicians themselves are more ‘class conscious’, about establishing what kinds of fees are and aren’t acceptable in different circumstances.

Markets, exploitation and employment in the music industry

A workshop at the University of Leeds
The TEMS team is organising a workshop on music labour markets, to be held at the University of Leeds on 10th December, 10:30-3:00pm. The workshop will be titled “Markets, exploitation and employment in the music industry”, and will feature four speakers, presenting an in-depth look at the way labour and product markets work in music. Particular themes of interest are the role of intermediaries such as agents, managers, welfare providers and unions in regulating the musicians’ labour market and establishing prices and practices. There will also be discussion of the ways in which new developments in the recorded music industry has led to recording companies loading more financial risk onto performers.
Confirmed speakers are Wenceslas Lizé (University of Poitiers), Leslie Meier (University of Leeds), Martin Cloonan (University of Glasgow) and Charles Umney (University of Leeds).
Attendance is free- if you are interested in coming contact

Workshop in Greenwich: Austerity versus Social Europe

Austerity versus Social Europe: Neoliberal labor market reforms on the Mediterranean

11 December 2015, Hamilton House, University of Greenwich.


12:00 Lunch and welcome

12:45 Elisa Pannini, London School of Economics. Neoliberalism Conquering Europe: Labour Market Reforms in Italy, Spain and Greece and their consequences

The European Social Model is offers in theory a high levels of social protection, social dialogue, and public services, with an aim of ‘social cohesion’. However, the picture emerging from labour market reforms in Southern European countries casts a shadow on this idea and raises the prospect of neoliberal convergence. This paper explores changes in labour market regulations, in Italy, Spain and Greece, with special attention to the role of European institutions in shaping national policies and pushing governments towards ‘ideal’ levels of flexibility and employment protection legislation. This review aims to contribute to the debate about the continuity of the distinctive characteristics of the European Social Model: can they survive to the progressive deregulation of labour markets and commodification of labour itself? Are European institutions actually pushing member states away from that model?

2:15 Alexandre Afonso, Leiden University. Institutional Change in South European Labour Market Regimes After the Crisis

This paper seeks to map and compare change in labour markets regimes in Spain, Italy, Portugal and Greece in the aftermath of the financial crisis. While the extent of austerity policies in terms of fiscal retrenchment in these countries has been the subject of much interest, we still lack an overall picture of change in the areas of employment protection, income compensation, minimum wages, education and collective bargaining, and how reforms pushed by international financial institutions have reshaped institutional complementarities. Contradicting arguments supporting the idea that markets adapt more quickly than top-down political control, we show how greater state intervention prior to the crisis fostered swifter change in the face of private sector resistance, even on the side of employers. Hence, the greater reliance of Mediterranean economies on the state to compensate for the weak coordination capacity of economic actors made them particularly vulnerable to change in the context of the crisis of state finances.

3.45 Lefteris Kretsos, University of Greenwich. Governing Greece. The experience of SYRIZA

This paper adresses questions regarding the governance of austerity experience in Greece under the memorandum agreements signed between the Greek government and the so-called Troika. First, the bail-out packages and the austerity measures that accompanied them are considered as reflections of the global financial markets’ deregulation, as well as the fundamental assumptions of the Eurozone project’s architecture. Second, the historical evolution of the crisis experience in Greece is examined; a special focus is placed on the ways consecutive governments responded to the austerity challenge, as well as the societal reactions to it. The impact of the electoral shift that occurred in January 2015, with the rise of left-wing party SYRIZA to power, is evaluated. Finally, the paper addresses the impact of the crisis on specific social, political and economic institutions, in an effort to provide an in-depth understanding of how the crisis altered the socio-political landscape of Greece.

This workshop is free of charge, part of the research project ‘the Effects of Marktization on Societies: The Case of Europe (TEMS)’ funded by the European Research Council (313613).

The venue will be Hamilton House, 15 Park Vista, Greenwich, London SE10 9LZ; for more information on getting to the venue, see

To register and for more information, please contact Ian Greer (

Ljubljana conference

Precarity and the shrinking welfare state / Prekarnost in krčenje države blaginje

  1. September 2015, Ljubljana, Faculty of Social Work, Topniška ulica 31,
    1000 Ljubljana, room 4

Organisers of the conference:  WERU and Faculty of Social work (University of Ljubljana)

Please follow this link to view detailed description and program of the conference and presentation’s abstracts. To book your place please email ( until 8th of September 2015.

Prosim sledite tej povezavi za podrobnejši opis in program posveta ter povzetke prestavitev. Prosimo vas, da svojo udeležbo potrdite najkasneje do 8. septembra 2015 na tej povezavi.

Charles Umney on BBC Radio 4

Research by members of the TEMS team into the labour market conditions facing freelance musicians has been featured on the most recent episode of the BBC Radio 4 programme Thinking Allowed, broadcast on the 29th October 2014. Dr Charles Umney was invited into the studio to talk about his paper entitled “Creative labour and collective interaction: the working lives of young jazz musicians in London” (written with Dr Lefteris Kretsos). The paper, which is published in the current issue of the journal Work, Employment and Society, describes and categorises the various kinds of work settings encountered by young workers seeking to establish careers as jazz musicians. It examines the precarious nature of working conditions, and the trade-offs between creatively and materially rewarding jobs.

The show can be listened to using the BBC iPlayer at the following address: