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”Jag skulle så jätte, jätte, jättegärna vilja ha ett fast jobb att gå till". Om att vara ung och arbetslös i Västervik.

Authors Åsa Andersson
Anita Beckman
Publisher Högskolan Väst
Place of publication Trollhättan
Publication year 2015
Published at Department of Cultural Sciences
Language sv
Keywords ungdomsarbetslöshet, postindustrialism, arbetsnormen, socioekonomisk mariginalisering, vuxenblivande
Subject categories Other Social Sciences, Other Humanities


The centre of Child and Youth Studies at University West works strategically with other regional research environments and institutions that study children, youths and young adults. The goal of our research centre is to spread knowledge about the social conditions under which children and young people live, thereby strengthening their position in society. Collaboration with external research environments is one of the ways that our research domain works to reach that goal. Partnerships are formed through a model that strives to create good conditions for both our research and that of our partners. This model is grounded in a dialogue between research partners who work together to select areas of interest and formulate hypotheses. These research projects are financed equally by the university and our partners. The following report is the result of one of these research partnerships.Advanced industrial society has been replaced by a society based upon knowledge and information where industrial work/manufacturing becomes less common. Västervik is one of the small towns in Sweden whose main industries have closed down or severely decreased their workforce during the last few decades of great structural change. The groups in the job market that have been most affected by these changes are young men and women, something which is evident in the high unemployment rates among the young population. The purpose of this study was to investigate young people’s own experiences and thoughts regarding their own situation as jobseekers in the municipality of Västervik. How do they see themselves and the situation they find themselves in? The narratives were collected in the form of 18 in-depth interviews with young men and women between the ages of 19-25, all them registered at the job center in Västervik. In the report different aspects of their situation are discussed, such as: the young people’s relation to their hometown, their thoughts on the meaning and value of work, the role of education, the economic, social and emotional consequences of unemployment, and their experiences of taking part in various programs for unemployed. The narratives we have encountered can be seen as having some general validity in the sense that many of their experiences are probably shared by other unemployed young people in other locations in Sweden, but Västervik is also a specific town with a specific history and specific conditions.The young men and women have an ambivalent relationship to their hometown. On the one hand they want to start a life in the same location, but on the other, the future there is seen as very uncertain. Many of those interviewed would like to have the kind of industrial jobs that their parents have and grandparents experienced, but which are nowadays less and less common. The norm of a fulltime job is strong among the young men and women – something which strengthens the image of the evident dissonance between their seemingly traditional dreams and intentions and the structures of possibilities the municipality and community suggest for them. Connected to this are the ways the young people must relate to the postindustrial demands of employability – which means the ability to enterprise and market oneself on a competitive market. These demands presuppose abilities that are more likely to be socialized and practiced in certain social environments rather than in others, and the majority of the young men and women interviewed have a background in aworking class environment where these values and approaches are far from selfevident.The socioeconomic marginalization that these young people experienceresults in much curtailed possibilities for a period of youthful experimentation aswell as for an expected adulthood. Being unemployed means one has difficulty ingaining the status of an adult, but due to economic shortages, there are also limits to how much they can take part in this experimental lifestyle that characterizes youth. The young men and women’s situation can thereby be seen as a grey zone; they are neither young nor adults in the normative sense. In some of the narratives the young people express critical thoughts with regard to the social conditions that their difficult situation can be related to. By extension, expressing these thoughts and stating their opinion can be strengthening and mobilizing for them, both as individuals and as a group. Insights may be gained about unemployment as a shared experience rather than as a personal failure

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