Aalan’s story: Waithood, capital, and categories of youth research and policy in young people’s lives
B. H. Holte
In Journal of Applied Youth Studies, forthcoming.
AbstractThis article presents a young man living in Oslo, Norway, who had been a street youth, a youth at risk, and a young man not in education, employment, or training (NEET). The young man himself did not use any of these categories when he told me his story; he used other words. The article analyses his story by drawing on approaches to time, life story, and biography in youth research; the distinction between different forms of capital; and the concepts waithood and waiting from the research on youth in African countries. Thus, the article illustrates how concepts such as waithood and waiting can contribute to analyses that are sensitive to young people’s situations and the solutions they devise, especially when coupled with attention to the often limited capital available to individual young people. The discussion compares the categories the young man used with the relevant categories of youth research and policy. Thus, the article shows how the young man shifted from being part of a hyper-visible category of youth at risk to being part of an invisible category of NEET young people, with consequences for his access to benefits and services from the welfare state. The article shows how categories of youth research and policy can impact young people’s lives even when they do not use those categories themselves. This points towards a need to understand how categories of youth research and policy interact with the categories young people use and other factors to shape their stories and lives.
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