‘NEET’ to work? – substance use disorder and youth unemployment in Norwegian public documents
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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The aim of this paper is to provide insight into the degree to which and how relevant Norwegian policy documents conceptualise the chances for inclusion in working life among young adults (18–30) who are not in employment, education and training (NEET) and who have exhibited problems with alcohol or other drugs. We analysed a sample of policy documents inspired by Foucault and Fairclough`s methodology and discussed the results in light of prevailing policy trends within contemporary welfare states and results from relevant research. We found three predominant discourses that tend to govern public opinion in the area: The Medicalisation Discourse, The Stigma Discourse and The Social Investment Discourse. All three can be related to the neoliberal tendency of individualising and medicalising social problems. There seems to be little evidence in epidemiology and other research that substance abuse represents any direct reason for the NEET status among young people. Neither is there any clear evidence that problems with alcohol and drugs among young adults will, in the long run, unambiguously reduce their working capacity. Thus, the identified discourses may contribute to the creation of myths about the NEET population in question.