The economic crisis that emerged in 2008 put great stress on the so-called European project. The economic downturn put additional pressure on economically and educationally marginalised populations, who continue to experience high levels of unemployment and lower levels of access to societal goods. Activation is seen as one of the main strategies to combat unemployment. The EU also recognises a systemic shift in the nature of work, such that individuals will have several transitions between work and education during their careers. This is a significant societal level challenge that will likely pose greater stress on groups and individuals that are marginalised socially, educationally and economically. To deliver better long-term outcome it is necessary to adopt reflexive activation approaches. Reflexive activation is one in which unemployed people actively co-design the proposed resolutions. It is also embedded in a societal context. It is cognisant of citizenship, autonomy and human rights and leans towards traditional adult education values. The model of reflexive activation explored here is infused with understandings emerging from Schullerís three types of capital and theories of recognition, respect and dignity developed by Honneth and others.