Fostran till anställningsbarhet : Ungas berättelser inifrån den kommunala arbetsmarknadspolitiken

Sammanfattning: The issue of unemployment has become individualised. In recent decades, Swedish social- and labour market policies have changed towards an emphasis on activation, which places greater demands on the job seeker to actively seek work, participate in employment initiatives and improve their employability. This thesis studies how these requirements are expressed in the municipal acti­vation of young people (18-29 years of age). The purpose of the study is to highlight and problematise the activation’s creation of employable individuals and its consequences for young people’s identity work.The study is based on ethnographic field work in an activation programme. The data consists of field notes, interviews and audio recordings from the pro­gramme’s daily activities and the young people’s tripartite meetings with pub­lic employment officers, which are also attended by staff from the activation programme. Based on Goffman’s perspective on total institutions and an inter­actionist, discursive and narrative approach, the study illustrates activation from the point of view of the programme participants’ own perspectives and narratives.The analysis shows how the programme screens young people from their environment and at the same time monitors and controls them. A daily sched­ule has to be followed, which means that all the young people do the same activity at the same time. The analysis identifies the prominent discourses that set the framework for the design of the activation and the everyday activities, as well as how the young people’s situations and needs are understood. The participants are categorised as “problem young people” with faults and fail­ings. Included in the activation is a desire to change them into employable and capable individuals who can fit into the adult world. However, it is the young people who are responsible for working on themselves in accordance with the prevailing ideals. Thus, it is not primarily about reinforcing their competences in aspects like education and experience of working life. Rather, the young peo­ple are encouraged to adopt new ways of thinking and characteristics, such as being active, flexible, reflexive, well-behaved and accepting responsibility. They are challenged to show motivation, self-confidence and social and com­munica­tive skills. By encouraging the young people to change themselves and adopt certain personal characteristics, the activation conveys the image of un­employment as a personal problem that requires a personal solution, rather than a social problem. In the young people’s narratives, the activation is depicted as meaningless in that the programme does not lead to employment. At the same time, the young people say that the programme has given them new values and ways of seeing themselves. The activation can therefore be understood as a practice of normalisation as well as a semi-total institution that disciplines and changes the participants.

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