Bjørn Hallstein Holte

VID Specialized University, Oslo


This is Bjørn Hallstein Holte’s page.
Presenting my work at The Department of Sociology at the University of South Africa in Pretoria, South Africa.
Picture: UNISA Intcom newsletter.
I am a social anthropologist and an assistant professor at VID Specialized University. I am based in Oslo, but also work in Stavanger, in Norway. My main areas of academic interest are socioeconomic inequalities, social integration, and social exclusion. I have conducted research with youth in Africa and the Nordic countries. My most recent research was on youth exclusion and religious organisations in Oslo and I have previously conducted fieldwork at an elite boarding school in Kenya. My research has been published in YOUNG – Nordic Journal of Youth Research and Volunteer Economies: The Politics and Ethics of Voluntary Labour in Africa, an edited volume published by James Currey.


My most recent research was part of the Norwegian case study of Youth at the Margins (YOMA), a Nordic-South African research project on marginalised youth and faith-based organisations. The project expired at the end of 2016, but the main results are not yet published. My research for the project concerned the relations between young people not in education, employment, or training (NEET young people) and religious organisations in a super-diverse city district of Oslo. The research included Christian, Muslim, and Buddhist organisations in the city district. I currently have papers in progress on the NEET concept, religious organisations’ activities and engagements for youth in the case study city district, and religious organisations’ role in social integration and system integration in super-diverse cities and urban communities.

My doctoral thesis, which will soon be available online, discusses how social scientists have understood and should understand social cohesion. It draws on the Norwegian YOMA case study and asks how the religious organisations’ activities and engagements for youth in the super-diverse case study city district contribute to social cohesion.


Click each reference for abstract and access details.

The concept of ‘not in education, employment, or training’ (NEET) has gained wide usage in youth research over the last two decades. This article reviews the concept’s background and discusses how it is linked to population statistics. Drawing on literature within the fields of anthropology, sociology, and educational research, as well as field research conducted in Norway, the article discusses how, by meeting young people categorized as NEET for interviews and participant observation, researchers can address other aspects of their lives than have been counted. Researchers who meet young people find that the concept means different things in everyday speech than in published research. The article concludes by suggesting how research based on meeting young people categorized as NEET can contribute to a body of knowledge that has mainly been produced by counting NEET young people.

See the journal’s website for access options.

This chapter is based on ethnographic research among students from an international boarding school in Kenya who volunteer at a Bible Club for children from poor families. I show how volunteering as encounters across vast socioeconomic differences feeds into the formation of the students as privileged subjects. I understand volunteering in relation to two other modes of engagement with the ‘people outside the gates’ of the school that are commonly portrayed in the anthropological literature on gated communities: their exclusion as peril and their inclusion as labour. Volunteering works to a very different effect from these. While volunteering, the students relate to the children as members of a public towards which they have responsibilities but of which they are not themselves part. Volunteering thereby affirms the students’ privilege and instils dispositions for loving and responsible exercise of it in them.

See the publisher’s website or JSTOR for more information and access options.

Presentations and papers

Flyer for International Seminar: Young NEETs and the Youth Guarantee Program.
Flyer: Social Sciences Institute, University of Lisbon.
‘The meaning, identities and inclusion of NEET young people in Norway.’ International Seminar: Young NEETs and the Youth Guarantee Program, Social Sciences Institute, University of Lisbon, 18 June 2018.

‘Research within the YOMA project: New research results from a PhD project - methodological insights.’ CODE seminary, VID Specialized University, 20 March 2018.

‘Religious organizations’ role for marginalized youth in South Africa.’ Workshop on African Initiated Churches and Sustainable Development. Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, 6 June 2017.

‘Understanding youth marginalisation through NEET: A South African – Nordic European exchange of perspectives’ (with I. Swart). Diaconia in Dialogue: The Challenges of Diversifying Contexts. ReDi Biannual Conference, Diak, Helsinki, 16 September 2016.

‘Them and us. Reflections about how religious organizations perceive young people at the margins in a multi-cultural city district of Oslo’ (with K.K. Korslien). Diaconia in Dialogue: The Challenges of Diversifying Contexts. ReDi Biannual Conference, Diak, Helsinki, 16 September 2016.

‘Religion as communication.’ Construction and Disruption: The Power of Religion in the Public Sphere. Socrel Annual Conference, Lancaster University, 13 July 2016.


I teach and supervise students at the bachelor programmes in social work and social studies and the master programmes in intercultural work and global studies at VID Specialized University in Oslo and Stavanger.

I have held guest lectures in master courses at MF Norwegian School of Theology and the Faculty of Theology and Religion at the University of Pretoria (both 2017), been an external examiner for master theses at the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Oslo (2016 and 2017), and a seminar tutor at bachelor courses in social anthropology and development studies at the University of Oslo (2011 to 2013).

Contact details and links

For contact details, please see my page at VID’s website.

You can also see my profiles at Google Scholar and

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