NGOST: NGOization of school-to-work transition among Roma youth

September, 2019 to August, 2021
EU Horizon 2020 - Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions / Individual fellowships

The negative impacts of the recent global economic crisis had a disproportionately adverse effect on young people’s labour market opportunities. Ethnic minorities, particularly the Roma, tend to have access to the poorest educational services and the most precarious parts of the labour market. Roma people are Europe’s largest ethnic minority, who suffer higher than average level of marginalisation in all domains of life. The NGOST research project will examine how NGOization of the school-to-work transition (STWT) programmes targeting the Roma can be interpreted as a form of neoliberal governance of minorities. A neoliberal state, in the name of efficiency, delegates its core functions, such as social services, to private corporations and NGOs, claiming that NGOs have direct knowledge and easier access to beneficiaries. NGOization refers to the process through which civil society organisations professionalise themselves to deliver technical interventions, demobilising their clients and depoliticising their own action. NGOST will offer a theoretically informed, comparative ethnographic account of this under-researched topic: how local practices of STWT with the corresponding neoliberal ethos of activation and self-responsibilisation, shape young Roma people’s chances on the labour market and their perceptions thereof. Case studies, conducted in Hungary, Slovakia and Spain, will follow three levels of inquiry: programmes, key players, and beneficiaries’ biographical experiences. The analysis will draw on multiple disciplinary, theoretical and conceptual traditions. A mixed-method design will include 3-month-long ethnographic endeavours, conducting observations, interviews, focus group discussions and surveys. The proposed research will contribute to a critical understanding of ideological/policy, structural/institutional and social configurations of neoliberal governance of the Roma, through the NGOization of their transition from school to work.