YOUTHSharing the News
It’s high time for the second Newsletter of the YOUTHShare project!
Discover the progress of the research and the NEET situation in MED EEA countries. Read about the Youth Employment Magazine and the Sharing Economy. Get to know the project partners responsible for research. Learn about the communication and dissemination activities of the project.
Let’s stay in touch! Receive the news from the YOUTHShare project, after subsrcibing at: www.youthshare-project.org/#contact
EFTA Communication Unit Visit in Cyprus
Press Release, 09.08.2019
The Sociology Chicken and the Policy Egg: The Case of NEETs
Sometimes it’s difficult to avoid cliches; possibly because they are powerful in describing the context. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have survived as cliches. The recursive dynamicity in the “chicken and egg” metaphor in reality demonstrates our limited analytical capacity in a context in which the cause and the consequence are not yet categorically defined.
Τhe featured book: Agency, Structure and the NEET Policy Problem by Ian Thurlby Campbell and Leslie Bell (Bloomsbury Academic, 2017) offers the opportunity for an interesting insight on the epistemological articulation between sociology and policy analysis.
The authors provide an innovative break on a classic debate between researchers and policymakers. Why one becomes a NEET? Is this development a life-choices (agency) consequence, or the result of external factors (i.e. social, political and economic structures). The centuries-long debate between Agency and Structure is usually resolved today with a mitigated approach. The truth lies in-between the two. The debate, therefore arises on the contribution of Agency or Stucture in the each-case phenomenon and in the present case of the NEETs phenomenon. The book by Cambel and Bell is effectively surpassing that debate by drawing on social cognitive theory. The conduct of empirical research provides a really interesting and fresh perspective on the issue of NEETs in the case of London.
In that framework, the articulation of social research with policy touches an important, yet unduly analysed issue. Sociology and social sciences in their majority are considered descriptive sciences. They aim at positively describing the reality. Wouldn’t be the same with policy analysis? Not exactly! Policy analysis (different from political science) is hardly ever descriptive. A “policy” is considered the result of both political decision making and research. The second might look strange, but in reality the delimitation of a policy, its conceptualisation and internal organisation is the result of external observation; the result of the work of a researcher and more specifically of a researcher coming from the descriptive sciences. In other words, a policymaker applies immediate responses to actual, usually hot, issues. The conceptual organisation of those responses into an organised policy comes from an external observer rather than the policymaker.
This is exactly the case of the NEETs issue. What is an undoubted social phenomenon is the existence of persons that are not employed, in education or training. On the other hand, the decision to call them “NEETs” and examine the phenomenon along with other concepts (life-choices, social factors etc.) is a policy decision that recursively confirms the “NEETs” as a policy issue rather than as a social phenomenon. This is not to say that persons that are not employed, in education or training don’t exist. On the contrary! It is their existence that obliges addressing them exactly as a social phenomenon and therefore free from the limitations in understanding from previous policies.
A Thousand Miles Journey Begins With the First Step
It was 5 months ago, on November 27, 2018, when the first step was made. The kick off event of the YOUTHShare project took place in the iconic “Kostis Palamas” building in Athens, Greece.
Representatives from 12 partners, from 5 countries, from the North and the South of the European Economic Area, came along to organise and plan the next 42 months of the project.
A full, yet productive, day set the pace and the spirit of the project: In-depth research, production of new knowledge, tailored training and capitalisation are instrumental. What stands at the core is the devotion of the YOUTHShare projects people in offering sustainable solutions to local societies and the NEETs of the Mediterranean EEA.
YOUTHShare Newsletter #1
The first Newsletter of the YOUTHShare project is here!
Discover the project and the EEA and Norway Grants. Read about social economy and the University of the Aegean at the dedicated articles. Learn about the communication and thorough dissemination in the news from the project.
Let’s stay in touch! Subscribe to receive the News from the YOUTHShare project at your email!
The Definition of Reality or the Definition in the Reality
NEETs as an epistemological exercise in Statistics
Statistics appears as a clear-cut field of knowledge. The numbers, the percentages, the diagrams, the so much wanted from the administration “hard facts” leave few doubts on what is actually the Statistics. But would we have the same impression if Statistics were viewed under the fundamental schism between Descriptive and Normative sciences? What is the role of Statistics; to describe or to explain?
This is a well known issue for social statistics as it is for any social science that balances between the positivist description of reality and the urge to explain it based on scientifically proven facts. At the same time this is a non issue in the sense that, epistemologically, social sciences have managed to overcome methodological barriers and both describe as well as explain the social reality.
Still, though, this old question is valueable as a caveat. The norms used to prescribe social dynamics in order to measure their extent should not hinder social research from expanding its view. In other words, it’s crucial to understand that Statistics measure an aspect of the social reality, they are not the social reality itself. For that specific reason, that aspect is conditioned upon our reservations, monism and methodological restrictions.
Looking for an example? Well, NEETs constitute the perfect example!
The term NEETs usually refers to young people not in employment, education or training and is calculated by the ratio of NEETs divided by the total number of young people in the corresponding age group, by gender (OECD 2018). According to Eurostat (2019) they are not employed, but according to the International Labour Organisation (2019) they are “inactive”. Moreover, the NEETs have not received any formal or non-formal education or training in the four weeks preceding the survey (Eurostat 2019).
One could ask, what is the difference bewteen unemployment and inactivity or why four weeks without formal or non-formal education/training would suffice but three weeks not? One could also ask who is that young person?
The evolution of answers to the latter question is revealing. When introduced in the United Kingdom at the end of the 1980s the age of NEETs spanned between 16 and 18 years old (Furlong, 2006, Eurofound, 2012:19, Drakaki et al., 2013). In 2008, the term was broadened to include those aged 15–24 and later, those aged between 15–29. (Papadakis et al 2011: 4, Drakaki et al., 2014, Eurofound, 2016:1). Nowadays, the age range has been broadened from 15 to 34 years old because of the social changes; particularly due to the changes concerning the transition from adolescence to early adulthood (Eurostat, 2017, Simões, 2018).
This very evolution of the definition reveals the conditionality of Statistics upon the social reality. At the same time it points to the need of constantly furthering the boundaries of science through research according to the social dynamics.
Drakaki, M., Papadakis, N., Kyridis, A., & Papargyris, A. (2014). Who’s the Greek Neet? Neets’ profile in Greece: parameters, trends and common characteristics of a heterogeneous group. International Journal of Humanities and Social Science, 4(6), 240-254.
Eurofound (2012). NEETs. Young people not in employment, education or training: Characteristics, costs and policy responses in Europe. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union. Available online at: http://www.eurofound.europa.eu/pubdocs/2012/54/en/1/EF1254EN.pdf.
EUROSTAT (2017). Statistics on young people neither in employment, nor education or training. Retrieved from http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statisticsexplained.
Furlong, A. (2006). Not a very NEET solution: representing problematic labour market transitions among early school-leavers. Work, employment and society, 20(3), 553-569.
OECD (2018), Youth not in employment, education or training (NEET) (indicator).doi: 10.1787/72d1033a-en (Accessed on 05 February 2019)
Eurostat (2019), Glossary:Young people neither in employment nor in education and training (NEET)
Papadakis, N. (in collaboration with Hourdakis, M. and Kamekis, A) (2011). New forms of Social Vulnerability and the Challenges for Social Policy: the NEETs (Young People Not in Education, Employment or Training). Athens: ISTAME, February, 2011 (G).
Simões, F. (2018). How to involve rural NEET youths in agriculture? Highlights of an untold story. Community Development, 1-18.
NEET: The multiple readings of a term
Some thoughts following the publication of a demographics study in Greece.
What is a NEET? The answer is straightforward: A person Not in Employment, Education or Training.
Indeed a clear term. Or not? Who is really a NEET? What is the very essence of being a NEET? How can a NEET be identified? The latter question is the cornerstone of success of any intervention logic, because in our, still modern societies, Job and Education constitute forming concepts of our social identity or the other way around; namely, ways that our society identifies and appoints us in social norms. We are supposed to be students, workers or unemployed and the State approaches us through respective channels. Or not?
Although we can assume that there are persons not in employment, education or training and at the same time not officially registered as unemployed, it is somehow hard to visualise them; exactly because visibility is vested with the official channels of communication between the State and the person.
From the official employment statistics point of view a small percentage in the general population covers a wide array of cases. Who larks behind the term “Not Economically Active” / “NEET” / “NLFET” (Not in Labour Force, Education or Training)?
A recent study of the National Center for Social Research in Greece commissioned by the NGO Dianeosis, touches upon an old question and sheds some light on its recent aspects. Could the alarming state of the population growth in Greece be attributed to the need to increase the family income through the entrance of women in the labour market? Does that mean, consequently, that housewives should be considered among the NEETs? How the current financial crisis affects those trends, questions and answers?
Definitely, a very interesting read!