Although governments have come to accept that they have responsibilities that require the formulation and execution of a policy towards unemployment, the nature and extent of these responsibilities remain, even after several decades of their being recognised, a highly, contentious and politically sensitive matter. The responsibility for alleviating the hardships of the unem ployed is the less contentious aspect of the matter. Much more contentious is the question of the government’s responsibility for influencing the scale of the problem, there still being a major diagnostic problem in establishing the extent to which unem ployment at any time is symptomatic of those disorders for which governments have some form of remedy. Thus, although the question of the nature and extent of government responsibil ity, in this as in any other sphere, appears to be a nakedly political matter, it is in fact not independent of technical, diagnostic problems. There is accordingly a strong linkage, in the discussion of unemployment policy, between the ideological and the technical spheres of discourse, in that ideological positions presuppose the answer to technical questions, and what are really technical issues appear to have an immediate ideo logical significance.