This chapter sets the theoretical and methodological basis of a comparative study—covering the United States, Norway, Denmark, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Portugal, and the Czech Republic—looking at reforms in the activation of minimum income recipients that took place in the first decade of the 21st century. The chapter argues that to adequately capture the significance and direction of these developments it is necessary to go beyond the analysis of activation policy and to cover changes in the tools and structures of delivery used in the activation of minimum income recipients. Furthermore, it is argued that the analytical focus must shift from the mapping of activation regimes, or families, to the tracing of processes of change. Based on these reflections, the chapter presents the conceptual and methodological framework that guides this study and makes a brief presentation of the book’s structure.
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