Uneducated Youth: The Description of a Changing Problem

Zenia Baungaard Berg Nørregaard

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

By employing the poststructuralist research paradigm, this thesis investigates how the description of uneducated youth as a problem has changed over time. This minority was first given genuine attention with the rise of the welfare state in the 1960s. With a focus that was now being placed on the ideal of equal opportunities for all, academia and quasigovernmental institutions like eg. Socialforskningsinstitutet (SFI) zoomed in on this group. The question that dominated this early stage of research on the topic, was basically structural in its nature; 'What can we (society) do, to make a higher proportion of pupils continue on the educational track after the mandatory seven years in school?" Over the following decades, the description of the problem transformed itself from the collective, structural focus to a focus on the problem as being placed within the individual. This process is by no means clear-cut or easily decoded. The analysis uses scientific reports as its analytical basis. The theoretical framework of Michel Foucault, focused the analytical attention to the individual sentences in the reports as they would be considered markers of meaning. Each text was read with the Foucaultian concepts of subject, power and knowledge, close in mind. This modus operandi slowly led me to gain a thorough understanding of the field, as well as enabling me to 'unlock' the changing descriptions of uneducated youth as a problem.
In general, it is the portrayal of uneducated youth as a statistical and social anomaly, that has made it possible to view the group as a problem. It is the universal welfare state ideal of democratization of education, an initiates the creation of a social field of intervention - and it is only because of this idea of a social field of intervention that is repeatedly reactualized and shifted, that one can still talk about uneducated youth as a problem and link different education policy solutions to them. Today the view on uneducated youth as a problem rests upon a premise that the individual must be formed en guided to accept (co- )responsibility for the choices that constitute its educational path. That some youth stumble upon educational barriers are no longer primarily explained by structural differences, but explanations must also be sought within the individual itself.

EducationsMSocSc in Political Communication and Managment, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageDanish
Publication date2016
Number of pages93
SupervisorsOve K. Pedersen