More Choices but No Chances? Making Sense of Neet Young People and Digital Technologies
There has been very little research concerning disadvantaged young people and their personal experiences of digital technologies. This paper aims to fill the gap by exploring the realities of the digital lives of Scottish young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEET). This paper employs a narrative inquiry methodology in association with a Bourdieusian sociological lens in order to capture and make sense of the complex relationship that exists between NEET youth and digital technologies. While a narrative approach allows participants to share their accounts of such relationships freely, the Bourdieusian framework seeks to position those accounts within unequal power structures and broader socio-economic, cultural and political dimensions. Three significant issues have emerged from NEET young people’s accounts and are thoroughly discussed in this paper. The first concerns the experiences of being NEET, the impact of disadvantage on the education, training and employment opportunities of young people, and the ways they would like to be supported into positive destinations. The second issue explores the realities of their digital lives, how technology fits into their everyday lives and practices, and how cultural context shapes their understanding, interpretation and engagement with technologies. Lastly, the visible links between their offline and online lives and inequalities are scrutinized. Drawing on research across social science and utilising young people’s knowledge and experiences will inform the most effective approaches in delivering support for NEET youth. The findings will have implications for current policy initiatives directed at tackling youth unemployment and social disadvantage, as well as for practice interventions supporting NEET young people into positive destinations in Scotland.