Neet Experience As Driver of Social Exclusion? Strengths and Limitations of a Definition: Evidence from a Qualitative Analysis of Biographical Trajectories.

Sunday, 10 July 2016: 09:30
Location: Hörsaal 50 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Mareike FRITZ, Institute for Regional Innovation and Social Research e.V. Dresden (IRIS), Germany
Enrico NERLI BALLATI, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy
The NEET concept is playing a growing role in European social research. The Youth Guarantee programme considers NEETs aged up to 25 years old (29 years old in some countries) as target group of its policies within the EU. On the one hand, sociological literature claims that the NEET status can reflect and exacerbate the accumulation of multiple disadvantages. On the other hand, the definition subsumes under a negative label a heterogeneous population with very different life situations. This work aims to explore under what conditions the experience of being NEET (Not in Education, Employment and Training) can trigger the social exclusion process. In this study, such process is conceptualized as a chain of events across life courses leading to economic exclusion, social isolation and cultural exclusion. The subjective perception of being sanctioned by the social surrounding bears relation to the cultural dimension. We carry out a computer-based qualitative content analysis on 41 in-depth interviews. Our qualitative surveys have been conducted with subjects classified as NEETs according to Eurostat definition in two contexts representative of different regimes of youth transitions: 23 interviews (subjects aged 25-29) have been collected during 2014 in Rome as a part of a research project of Sapienza University, and 18 interviews (subjects aged 20-29) have been conducted by IRIS Institute in 2015 in Dresden. Five typical biographical pathways to NEET condition are identified and these pathways are characterized through risks of exclusion, patterns of family support, interaction with institutional actors and coping strategies. This paper argues that NEET rate is an indicator of the utmost importance of labour market marginality. However, our results show strong heterogeneity in life trajectories and support the idea that actor´s structure of interaction at micro level and retrospective data should be taken into account to assess the risks experienced by NEETs.