Individualisation and social exclusion: the case of young people not in education, employment or training

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The characteristics, experiences and long-term prospects of young people outside the labour market and education have attracted widespread international attention in recent decades, and the specific category of young people not in education, employment or training (NEET) has been a policy concern for the UK Government since 1997. This paper examines the analytical and empirical basis of our knowledge of NEET young people, in the light of more general conceptualisations of social exclusion and the individualisation of social risk. It relates the NEET category to a conception of social exclusion in which the central policy focus is on moving young people across a boundary between participation and non-participation, and inequalities within education and employment receive less attention. This focus, allied with discourses of individualisation, obscures the structural basis of inequality in education and training. However, the paper argues that the research evidence shows that individualised approaches based on personal and cultural characteristics of NEET young people are inadequate to understand this group and frame policy. The paper proposes that stronger versions of social exclusion need to be used in constructing solutions which acknowledge the basis of NEET issues in wider social inequalities
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)785-802
Number of pages18
JournalOxford Review of Education
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2011


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