07 SES 06 A, Misclusion, Precarity and Social Justice
This presentation shows the construction of otherness in professionals’ discourses in the social and educational field, on young people with precarious residence permits (asylum seekers, provisionally admitted) or without legal status (“sans-papiers”). At a time where the Swiss government establishes vocational training programs targeted to young refugees who arrived in Switzerland near the end or after compulsory education (Barabasch and al 2016), various transitional offers are already involved in supporting youth with precarious statuses.
The goal of the presented research project conducted in Geneva, Switzerland, was to better understand this support by transitional offers from school to post-compulsory education and training, for young people with precarious residence permit. We wanted to know what place is given to these young people in the different transitional organizations (Wicht, 2005, SRED, 2005), such as low-threshold programs for young people, structures for professional insertion, transitional school programs, and migrant insertion associations, and what are the professionals’ perceptions who are accompanying them. Our question here is what kind of dominant representations of young people with precarious residence permit are expressed by the professionals’ speeches, and what kind of characteristics do they attribute to these young people? What do these representations (Moscovici, 1984) say about the taking charge of these young people? We take into account in this analysis the actors’ positions within the system, since we found that some dominant representations are influenced by their way of intervention, notably by if it is rather universal (for young people in general) or specific for young migrants with precarious residence status.
Teenagers and young adults in precarious legal situations are facing a double transitional process: the first one linked to their legal status, the second one to their age. Their legal status keeps them in an in-between situation, between their country of origin and the settlement in the country of arrival. The legal status figures also as a stigma (Goffman, 2009) for all job and training appliances after compulsory education: they will be subject to strict regulations (Valluy, 2009,) and the phenomena of stigma will have long-term consequences on their educational and vocational training path and their social integration.
Moreover, these legal statuses may cause a long-term exclusion from education and training, and especially from VET (Niloufer, Ruchti, 2013), yet one of the most important training option in Switzerland. Indeed, from a legal point of view, dual apprenticeship is considered as an employment activity and therefore subject to the granting of a work permit.
In contemporary sociology of youth theory, youth is mainly understood as a period of multiple transitions (Allport, 1955, Worth 2009, Woodman, Wyn 2014). But youth is also seen as a social category, subject to multiple projections and social representations (Galland, 2007, Rolshoven, 2005). Thus, on one hand it stays for freedom, but on the other hand, for the need of sustainability of social norms and values (Rolshoven, 2005). In this sense, youth is constituted as a figure of otherness: the young people are what “we” are not.
This communication aims to question this conception of youth, and the othering in a double sense: othering of youth and migrants (Pfister et al. 2013) whose legal situation is uncertain.
The study was conducted in Geneva Switzerland, focusing on one side on the transitional support offer for young people with precarious legal status on their way to find a training path after compulsory education. Within the different measures, there is a variety of different structures from low-threshold (outreach social work and easily accessible), insertion structures (upgrading courses and help for research of an apprenticeship), the school structures including a year of vocational guidance and complete scholastic competences, as well as courses with emphasis on language learning), and finally migrants associations dealing notably with precarious migrant families. Twenty-five in-depth interviews were conducted with professionals of different organizations, in order to know their way of intervention with these young people, and to better understand their experiences and representations of these populations. The interviews were transcribed and thematically analyzed. Some tendencies have been identified based on the organizations’ position within this system. Research was conducted in parallel with young migrants with precarious legal status, in order to know their life-path, their difficulties and resources to face the problematic situation that often arises at the end of compulsory education. Twenty in-depth interviews were conducted with young undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers. They were also submitted to a thematic analysis and we identified different types of life and training trajectories.
Our analyses show two major trends of the professionals’ representations of young migrants with precarious residence permits. Their discourse often confuses specific issues related to the situation of precarious youth and their related problems, with more general characteristics of young people (about the motivation, "culture" of origin, behaviors). That brings the ambivalence of wanting to "treat them like everyone else" on one hand, and "recognize their specificity" on the other hand. At the level of the construction of otherness, we identified some prevalent characteristics attributed to these young people. An important element is the opposition between “passivity” and “activity”, distinguishing young asylum candidates and the undocumented migrants. This representation shows the asylum seekers, who are taken in care (financially and administratively) by the asylum institutions, as completely identifying with this dependence and as adopting a posture of victims: They would not commit to their training, and remain passive when facing difficulties. On the other side, undocumented immigrants would be resourceful and get round with institutions and laws. A dichotomous picture of passive asylum seekers and cunning undocumented youth, which leaves no room to a more distinguished vision of young people dealing with various difficulties while trying to move forward in their educational life-course in different ways (as we could see in the analyses of young migrants’ interviews). Another vision emerging from analyses is, yet dichotomous, distinguishing between young people completely ignoring the importance of education and training because they have immediate financial goals and the others who have unrealistic education plans regarding their learning and language difficulties and the legal restrictions. They have dreams that “need to be broken”. These representations will be discussed in the light of the various actors’ position within the transitional education offer and their proximity and concrete experience with this population.
Allport, G. W. (1955). Becoming; Basic Considerations for a Psychology of Personality, Yale University Press. Barabasch, A., Scharnhorst, U., & Leumann, S. (2016). Flüchtlingsintegration in den Arbeitsmarkt – Das Beispiel Schweiz. bwp@ Berufs- und Wirtschaftspädagogik – online, Special issue: Inklusion in der beruflichen Bildung, 30, 1-17. Galland, O. (2011). Sociologie de la jeunesse, Armand Colin. Goffman, E. (2009). Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity, Touchstone. Moscovici, S. (1984). The phenomenon of social representations. In R. M. Farr and S. Moscovici (eds.), Social Representations. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. Niloufer, D., Ruchti, F. (2013). Les processus de recherche d’apprentissage des jeunes sans-papiers, Givisiez, HEF-TS. Pfister Giauque, B., Flamigni, E., & Caprani, I. (2013). Les jeunes issu-e-s de la migration dans les représentations des enseignant-e-s en école professionnelle: des stéréotypes à la reproduction des rapports sociaux. Diversité urbaine, 11(2), 7-22. Rapport au Conseil d’État, Groupe de travail interinstitutionnel, Genève, 2007 Rolshoven, J. (2005). Passage – Moratoire – Retraite, in Jeunesse aujourd’hui: analyse sociologique de la jeunesse et des jeunes dans une société en mutation rapide, Service de la recherche en éducation, Genève. Soulet, M-H. (2003). «Faire face et s’en sortir. Vers une théorie de l’agir faible», in Chatel Viviane, & Soulet Marc-Herny (éds), Agir en situation de vulnérabilité, Québec, Les Presses Universitaires de Laval. SRED. (2005). Jeunesse aujourd’hui: analyse sociologique de la jeunesse et des jeunes dans une société en mutation rapide, Service de la recherche en éducation, Genève Tomlinson, M. (2013). Education, Work and Identity. Themes and Perspectives. London, Bloomsbury. Valluy, J.(2009). Rejet des exilés : le grand retournement du droit d'asile. Paris: Éd. du Croquant. Wicht, L. (2005). Jeunes en difficultés d’insertion à Carouge. Etude de la situation et profil d’une structure de soutien, Genève, rapport de recherche HETS-IES. Worth N. (2009). Understanding youth transition as 'becoming': identity, time and futurity. In Geoforum 40 (6), 1050-1060, 2009. 127 Woodman, D. and J. Wyn (2014). Youth and Generation: Rethinking change and inequality in the lives of young people, SAGE Publications.
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