Third NOS-Hs Workshop ‘Rethinking Youth Employment– Work, Policy and the Changing Welfare State in the Nordic countries’

RECOGNITION-project hosted a NOS-Hs funded workshop “Rethinking Youth Employment– Work, Policy and the Changing Welfare State in the Nordic countries”, May 18-19th in the University of Helsinki.

Adrienne Roberts gave a keynote lecture ‘Privatizing Social Reproduction and Criminalizing Poverty: Unexplored Dimensions of the Gendered Neoliberal State’. Building on the arguments developed in her recent book Gendered States of Punishment and Welfarethe keynote lecturer of the workshop Adrienne Roberts (University of Manchester) talked about the gendered nature of the governance of poverty and criminality under neoliberalism. Roberts argued that the analysis of the punishment of the poor should take into account not only the dynamics of production but also social reproduction to see how restructuring of the state produces specifically gendered forms of precariousness, which has resulted in an increase in women’s criminalisation.

Johannes Kananen (University of Helsinki) discussed recent trends in the Finnish workfare policies. Kananen discussed how current reforms’ rationale increasingly draws on neoclassical economic theories with a belief that employment rates can be increased through the management of the supply of labour.

Josien Arts (University of Amsterdam) presented a co-authored paper with Marguerite van den Berg titled ‘Pedagogies of Optimism’. The paper discussed how the control over and the management of the unemployed in activating welfare programmes in the Netherlands are based on mobilisation of affects and affective citizenship, when the unemployed are taught to ‘look forward’ and be optimistic – despite being channeled to very insecure jobs.

Lisa Adkins‘ (University of Newcastle, University of Tampere) and Hanna Ylöstalo‘s (University of Turku) presentation was dedicated to the case of Universal Basic Income in Finland. According to Adkins and Ylöstalo, the experiment with UBI is based on the application of behavioural economics to manage the unemployed via working on their ‘wellbeing’. UBI should be thus understood as an attempt to enhance immaterial capacities of labour supply, as Adkins and Ylöstalo argued.

Elina Paju, Daria Krivonos, Lotta Haikkola and Lena Näre (University of Helsinki) presented a joint paper, which is an outcome of RECOGNITION-project’s multi-sited ethnography of young people’s employment in Helsinki region. The paper proposed the notion of ‘human capitalisation’ to understand how youth activation programmes saw young people as being ‘human capital’, which should be maintained at all times. While labour market is becoming increasingly flexible and deregulated, young people involved in activation programmes are taught to embrace themselves as being ‘human capital’ through investment in their bodies and selves.

Jaana Lähteenmaa (University of Helsinki) discussed different types of coping strategies in relation to activation that unemployed young people develop. Lähteenmaa showed how young people learn to navigate activation not as a possibility structure but a ‘structure of impossibility’, and how some young people prefer to drop out from the benefits programme not to feel humiliated and controlled.

Based on the papers, the workshop participants are preparing a Special Issue on Labour Activation edited by Lisa Adkins and Lena Näre.

Download the programme Youth Employment – workshop programme

The workshop was funded by a 2016-17 workshop grant from the Joint Committee for Nordic research councils in the Humanities and Social Sciences (Nos – HS).

Rethinking Youth Employment – Work, Policy and the Changing Welfare State in the Nordic countries

University of Helsinki

16-17, June 2016

The first exploratory workshop “Rethinking Youth Employment –  Work, Policy and the Changing Welfare State in the Nordic countries” is a joint effort by Assistant Professor Lena Näre (University of Helsinki); Professor Lisa Adkins (University of Newcastle, Australia/University of Tampere, Finland); Senior Lecturer Gunnar Gillberg (University of Gothenburg, Sweden) and Associate Professor Rune Halvorsen (HiOA, Norway). The workshop was based on the Rethinking Activation workshop, which took place in May 2015. It brought together researchers from the Nordic region working on the questions of youth (un)employment, work and activation. The workshop took Place in the University of Helsinki.

The workshop had a keynote presentation delivered by Prof. Lisa Adkins (University of Tampere, the University of Turku, Finland and the University of Newcastle, Australia), short introductory presentations of participants’ research projects as well as full papers.

The workshop was funded by a 2016-17 workshop grant from the Joint Committee for Nordic research councils in the Humanities and Social Sciences (Nos – HS).

Download the NosHS_WsProgramme and NosHS_WsBook of Abstracts


Sociology Days 2016 – The future of the sociological imagination

Ylistönrinne Ylistö Jyväsjärvi silta järvi kesä 2012

Lotta Haikkola, Daria Krivonos, Elina Paju and Lena Näre participated in Sociology Days Conference in the University of Jyväskylä.

Lotta Haikkola and Daria Krivonos chaired a Work and Precarity in a Mobile World workshop and presented their paper “Disrupted Biographies and Uncertain Futures – An Ethnography of Labour Market Activation”. The paper explored how activation measures are experienced by young unemployed migrants in Helsinki, Finland and analysed these experiences in the context of young people’s fragmented school-to-work transitions in post-Fordist societies. Daria and Lotta focused on misrecognition of young migrants’ skills and how nationalist construction of labour market and education in Finland fragments biographies of young migrants.

Daria Krivonos also presented her paper in Sociology of Migration workshop, which was chaired by Lena Näre and Päivi Pirkkalainen. In her paper “Racialised Boundaries of Welfarism and Belonging: Young Unemployed Russians’ Uses of Whiteness in Finland” she talked about the uses of racism by young unemployed Russian-speaking migrants in Helsinki. Daria argued that the construction of spaces of white privilege helps discriminated migrants defend and advance their claims for a better reception vis-à-vis other groups – in particular, claim respected worker identities.

Elina Paju talked about temporalities and dreaming in context of youth activating workshops in her presentation “Deaming the Future: Temporalities, Bodies and Selves in Youth Activating Workshops”.  Elina argued that the practices and ideology of the workshops make a distinction between the body-in-the-present and self-in-the-future. She discussed dreaming as an important practice in the workshops,  which serves to create and govern one’s self as a continuous, linear temporal duration.

In the end of the conference, Lena Näre participated in the panel discussion on Sociology and Migration.

The abstracts of the papers presented in Sociology Days can be found here .

12th International Etmu Days conference

Lotta Haikkola, Lena Näre and Daria Krivonos took part in Etmu Days conference
Mobile Roots – Rethinking Indigenous and Transnational ties in Rovaniemi, 22−23 October, 2015.

Lotta and Daria presented their co-authored paper on young migrants’ experiences of activation and integration programmes in Finland. They approached integration services (language courses, vocational training, work trials) as an extension of activation policies where welfare benefits have become conditional upon participation in trainings and work trials. They used methodological nationalism theory to describe how integration services recognise migrants’ skills and capabilities.

Daria also presented a paper in a workshop “Everyday bordering: coping strategies of ‘irregular’ migrants” chaired by Lena Näre. She talked about how young Russians make sense of their downward social mobility and problems in securing ‘decent’ employment through racialisation of other migrants in Finland.

The abstracts of presentations can be found here

Rethinking Activation: An Invitational Workshop in University of Tampere

The workshop in the University of Tampere on 28-29 May 2015 organised by FiDiPro project brought together three projects working on activation: RECOGNITION, FiDiPro project (FiDiPro Professor Lisa Adkins, Mona Mannevuo, Katariina Mäkinen, Olli Karsio), and Kori Allan’s project (University of Newcastle). The workshop was designed to think of activation beyond ideas of governance, the disciplining of the subject, and the commodification of labour. The workshop participants presented both theoretical and empirical papers dealing with employment activation schemes in the context of post-Fordist transformations to labour. The programme of the workshop with the titles of presentations can be found here.

RECOGNITION project members with FiDiPro Professor Lisa Adkins (second from the left)

“From welfare to workfare” Workshop in Sociology Days

The annual conference of the Westermarck society ‘Sociology Days’ took place in Helsinki on March, 5-6. Two research projects based at the Department of Social Research, University of Helsinki: Migrant Youth Employment – Politics of Recognition and Boundaries of Belonging (RECOGNITION, 2014-2017) and the Academy of Finland project ‘Insecure Lives – Precarious Labour and Irregular Migration in Finland’ (INSECURE, 2015-2018) organised a workshop ‘From welfare to workfare – Labour and precarity in a mobile world’. The papers presented at the workshop dealt with the issues of precarious migrant employment and workfare reforms in Finland. A member of RECOGNITION project Lotta Haikkola discussed her ethnographic observations in the employment offices in the presentation “Activation on the ground – young clients, activation policies and employment offices”. Lotta’s ethnographic research on young people’s employment

Lotta Haikkola "Activation on the ground – young clients, activation policies and employment offices"

Lotta Haikkola “Activation on the ground – young clients, activation policies and employment offices”

focuses on the neoliberal reforms in Finland, transition from welfare to workfare and activation policies. Lotta showed that the main target of workfare policies is making young people “active” while misrecognising young people’s skills and providing little help in their personal educational paths. Thus, following Lisa Adkins’ comment, she concluded that unemployment and activation policies should be analysed as productive and no longer connected to getting a job in the future. Daria Krivonos in her presentation “Gendered work-citizenship insecurities: from au pair through studying to work” talked about a precarious gendered migrant path of an au pair-student-worker produced by immigration controls. She showed that immigration controls and insecure migrant status channel young female Russian-speaking migrants to precarious work and employment however unappealing it can be for the sake of continuing residency in Finland.  The workshop has shown that there are several researchers working on a similar topic that generated a fruitful discussion at the workshop and created space for further cooperation.

YES Seminar

RECOGNITION project continues Youth, Employment & Society seminar meetings. On the 27th of February, researchers Antti Kivijärvi and Sanna Aaltonen from  the Finnish Youth Research Network presented their results of the ongoing research projects. Antti Kivijärvi’s talk was dedicated to young migrants and ethnic segregation of the labour market. Sanna Aaltonen’s presentation concerned opportunities given by welfare services to unemployed young people.

Youth, Employment & Society – YES Seminar

RECOGNITION project organizes a regular seminar on the ongoing research on youth employment and activation policy in Finland.  During the seminar researchers present and discuss their fieldwork and findings. On the 28th of November, a member of RECOGNITION project Lotta Haikkola and a researcher from the Finnish Youth Research Network Päivi Berg presented their preliminary research findings based on ethnographic observations in employment offices.

Workshop “Youth Marginalization – Novel Approaches”

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Anoop Nayak “White Lines”: Racist Graffiti, Skinhead Youths and Violence in the English Suburbs”

Youth marginalization is a multidimensional, yet under-theorized concept that has generated a lot of attention both in the public and within academic research. A workshop with professor Anoop Nayak (University of Newcastle), which was organized by the project “Migrant Youth Employment – Politics of Recognition and Boundaries of Belonging“, discussed young people’s transition to the labour market and current activation policies aimed at unemployed young people in Finland.

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Jaana Lähteenmaa “The individualistic ethos embedded in the ideology and practicies of the Youth Guarantee”

The workshop invited several researchers dealing with the question of youth employment. Researchers from Finnish Youth Research Network Sanna Aaltonen and Päivi Berg presented their work on “Negotiations over the counter – service encounters between young people and officials” based on observations in employment offices. They showed how employment services for young people make various categorizations of “proper” youth and young people who are “Not in Education, Employment, or Training” (NEET). Lotta Haikkola (University of Helsinki) presented her preliminary findings of her observations in the employment offices and showed that activation policies may have unintended consequences in producing precarity among young people. In her presentation titled “Lacking control – Young clients, activation policies and the employment office” Lotta Haikkola argued that employment officers also tend to misrecognize the goals and skills of young people seeking employment. Professor Anoop Nayak (University of Newcastle) in his presentation “White Lines”: Racist Graffiti, Skinhead Youths and Violence in the English Suburbs” talked about his ethnographic research on new ethnicities in white English suburbs, which despite their “whiteness” have become a site of racist graffiti, violence and social deprivation. Presentation of Jaana Lähteenmaa (University of Helsinki) “The individualistic ethos embedded in the ideology and practicies of the Youth Guarantee” was based on the analysis of policy documents of the Youth Guarantee, which, according to the presenter, construct young people as passive recepients of the state (adult) measures. Daria Krivonos (University of Helsinki) made a presentation on “Multi-Sited Ethnography of Young Russians’ Employability”. According to her ethnographic research with Russsian youth in Helsinki, young Russians tend to internalize xenophobia and predominantly negative attitudes towards Russians in Finland and constantly negotiate symbolic boundaries between them, Finns and other migrant groups.

The workshop finished with a general discussion of the presentations and the concept of marginalization. The RECOGNITION project also holds a regular seminar on youth employment, where researchers present and discuss their fieldwork and research findings.