This video was part of the University of Limerick MA in Sociology – Critical Perspectives on Youth, Community and Social Regeneration Spring 2016 seminar series. It features Dr Tom Boland (Waterford Institute of Technology) with his talk ‘Making Sacrifices: Young people’s experiences of Unemployment’. More videos from the seminar series can be viewed here.
Making sacrifices is not just implicit in the assumption of scarcity in economics, but happens more viscerally in the constitution of jobseekers as ‘homo sacer’, individuals who can be punished, even beyond the law. The suffering of young unemployed people is explored here as emerging not from the lack of economic, psychological and social goods, but from specific gift-relations imbued with power-relations, particularly as generated in active welfare policies currently spreading through the OECD. This is particularly the case in Ireland, where young people’s benefits have been cut, emigration runs high, inter-generational inequality is becoming entrenched and young people and lone parents in particular are treated harshly by new welfare services. Furthermore, young unemployed people exist as imaginary scapegoats for political legitimisation and as surplus labour which allows capitalism to function. Detailed empirical data is drawn from interviews, ethnographies and media reportage in Ireland where the switch to activation policies was made swiftly and dramatically since 2012.