In the 1990s, temporary youth projects became a common approach to handling youth unemployment and the social integration of young people in Sweden. In a longitudinal, qualitative study, 35 unemployed men and women, attending local youth projects in three Swedish municipalities, were followed over a two-year period. The selected contexts represented a wide variety of socio-economic, demographic and geographic characteristics. Central questions concerned the significance of the locality in constructing young people and youth politics, the functions of youth projects for young people, and how youth policy translates in practice. It was concluded that despite striking similarities in project description and organisation, their actual functions differed, both vis-à-vis the individuals and the municipalities involved. The youth projects studied here served as a social distributive apparatus, as a labour market measure, and as a space for leisure and waiting, respectively. Local youth projects tend to stress the responsibilities of a self-governing individual on the one hand, but to reproduce local structures and inequalities on the other. They both realise locally recontextualised national policies and locally formulated policies.
2004. Vol. 25, no 2, 161-178 p.