Empirical Paper

Non-academic, lazy and not employable: Exploring stereotypes of NEETs in England

Abstract

For most young people being not in education, employment, or training (NEET) is transitory. However, the term NEET is often used to refer to young people who may go on to become socially excluded as adults. Although NEET represents a heterogenous group, they tend to be stereotyped by policymakers and society as 'other', whether being labelled as disadvantaged or 'on the margins'. The present study gives NEET young people a voice and the ability to challenge these stereotypes. Ethnographic research was undertaken at a centre for NEET young people in central England, to hear from those with experiences of being NEET themselves. The research demonstrates that these young people highlighted their individual deficiencies when discussing their unemployment. They were influenced by the stereotypes associated with being young and unemployed, trying to distance themselves from these by emphasising their ‘student’ status. They were keen to show that they were ‘doing something with their lives’ despite the barriers they faced. They were ‘ordinary’ young people, like others in their age group but had differing experiences of unemployment and education, and were facing different challenges in their lives, making it difficult to treat them as a homogenous category.

Keywords

NEET, unemployment, stereotypes, young people, ethnographic research

How to Cite

Suttill, B., (2021) “Non-academic, lazy and not employable: Exploring stereotypes of NEETs in England”, EWOP in Practice 15(2), 102–126. doi: https://doi.org/10.21825/ewopinpractice.87146

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Beth Suttill (Lancaster University)

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