This chapter presents a cross-national qualitative comparison, examining the extent to which the narratives of young Europeans experiencing unemployment and job insecurity have commonalities across nation states. Our starting point is interviews with men and women from three birth cohorts (1950–55, 1970–75 and 1990–95) in seven European countries. Using the concept of big-N narratives, we interpret common themes found in our data. We focus on subjective consequences, using the capability approach to understand how individual actors perceive their challenges, what they are capable of doing and what might help them. The chapter expands on previous work by proposing seven conversion factors as lenses for our analysis: institutional, social, economic, familial, cultural, political and personal. Reading the data through these lenses, four overarching narratives of unemployment emerge: the Stumbler narrative, the Stigmatized narrative, the Great Crisis narrative and the Messy Life narrative.
Kjetil Klette Bøhler, Veneta Krasteva, Jacqueline O’Reilly, Janikke Solstad Vedeler, Rumiana Stoilova and Ida Tolgensbakk
Margherita Bussi, Mi Ah Schoyen, Janikke Solstad Vedeler, Jacqueline O’Reilly, Ann McDonnell and Christine Lewis
This chapter focuses on the mechanisms underlying social resilience, concentrating on individuals who successfully coped with precarious employment when young. The capability approach and the concept of social resilience are used jointly. The first allows us to identify factors of conversion that helped transform (im)material resources into valuable outcomes. The second qualifies the individual negotiation process (coping, adaptive, transformative). We analysed life-course interviews with individuals living in Norway and the United Kingdom – two countries with distinctive youth transition regimes _ to capture interactions between institutional structure and individual agency. Both countries present examples of adaptive and transformative resilience, but the factors of conversion are different. Education coupled with institutional support from public employment services were relevant conversion factors for young Norwegians. In the United Kingdom, by contrast, the voluntary sector, informal networks and education were more likely to fill the gap of a non-punitive support system.