Understanding self-blame as a risk for unemployed young people

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearchpeer-review


Young people face the risk of unemployment in a labor market characterized by a drift towards precarious employment (Kalleberg, 2013). Building on governmentality perspectives this study documents how understanding of unemployment is affected by neoliberal discourses reflected in the technologies applied by the institutions in the employment area. As a result, responsibility for unemployment is increasingly placed on the individual and self-blame is promoted as the predominant explanation, revitalizing attributional theory in a new way. This qualitative study consists of a combination of ten field observations made at respectively the unemployment center and an unemployment insurance fund and in-depth interviews with ten young unemployed. The study investigates the discourses and technologies applied by the unemployment institutions and explores how the young unemployed people experience their situation and make sense of it and how they position themselves in regards to this normative demand to blame themselves. Personal branding and networking are identified as strategies enforced by the employment system and can be viewed as technologies of the self (Rose, 1996) encouraging young people to modulate themselves as a way to make them more attractive as employees. The study discusses the implications of such pressures and explores the possibilities for resisting these normative demands and characterizes a response pattern ranging from pure internalization of the norms to actual resistance.
Original languageDanish
Publication date2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventContemporary Youth, Contemporary Risks: Journal of Youth Studies Conference - Københavns Universitet, København, Denmark
Duration: 30 Mar 20151 Apr 2015


ConferenceContemporary Youth, Contemporary Risks
LocationKøbenhavns Universitet

Cite this

Pultz, S. (2015). Understanding self-blame as a risk for unemployed young people. Paper presented at Contemporary Youth, Contemporary Risks, København, Denmark.