The Young Unemployed and a ‘Perfect Storm’ of Stigmatisation
During the course of my research I interviewed a number of young people who have made a conscious decision to not apply for social security. At first this baffled me as every single young person in this situation was entitled to do so. But when their reasons for not taking up entitlements became clear, I could well understand their decision even if it further impoverished already struggling households.
What is apparent from the interviews I’ve carried out is the sense of stigma and shame that the young people feel from the potential of accessing social security. Baumberg (2016) makes the point that ‘benefits stigma’ has seen a resurgence in 21st Century Britain due to a number of overlapping factors. He describes ‘personal stigma’ in this context as ‘a person’s own feeling that claiming benefits conveys a devalued identity’ (p183). It’s clear that such a description chimes with what the young people have been telling me, that they feel claiming benefits would result in them feeling ashamed – and lesser – should they access their entitlements.
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