Achtkarspeler JWG-ers en in streekeigen kultuer : undersyk nei de ynfloed fan de streekeigen kultuer fan Achtkarspelen op it halden en dragen fan dielnimmers oan de JeugdWerkGarantie-wet

Verhaar, C.H.A.


1 Theoretical basis, problem definition and research strategy

Introduced as central line of approach in the first chapter of this study is '...the idea that local-regional cultural factors will exert influence on attitude and behaviour in the area of work and that this may be expressed in a pattern that deviates from the general picture.' This approach acquires a certain tension where yet another aspect of this study is involved: the JWG. Is it possible to apply so general a measure everywhere in the same way? Do not local-cultural factors play a role in implementation, even apart from the labour market situation?

In reviewing the first three chapters, particularly chapter 1, it becomes evident that a number of problems are related to this central approach. Indeed, it is possible that a local- regional culture has been created from history which (also) is visiblelhas effects on the area of 'work' and this can be made plausible on the basis of the literature. However, the difference between the local and the general can not always be sharply indicated. The general culture also has a place in the local culture. Furthermore, in regard to the social layer which will be the main focus of this study, unemployed youth who qualify for the JWG, class culture is intricately involved as well. Moreover, the choice of research area is accounted for in chapter 1, but in that connection this also means further that a distinction may have to be made between the different villages (heathland villages and other types) in the region.

It can be derived from the literature, and is further confirmed by the findings of the pilot project, that as for the culture factors important for this study 'binding to the region' is directly related to the district - although account must also be taken of the possibility that a Frisian andlor rural characteristic is involved. Matters such as a conventional choice of occupation and an aversion to study both have region-specific and class-specific elements. This perhaps also applies to an aversion for indoor work, another cultural element that comes up for discussion in chapter 1. However, it may be said of this last characteristic that the conventional choice for working class jobs gets a region-specific colouring in the preference for outdoor work.

A final factor to which attention must be paid is whether or not activity in the informal economy is involved. We can mainly encounter the different activities which come under this category in regions where pre-industrial work patterns are still present. However, Pahl and others note that it is precisely the unemployed who are less active in this informal economy. If that is indeed the case, here it probably involves a part of the local culture for which Achtkarspelen is known, but which does not have the most significance for the (young) unemployed.

This would mean, as has been treated in chapter 2, that unemployed youth have no other choice than the world of formal work. It is very clear that the unemployed generally attach great importance to work and are actively looking for jobs. This also applies, perhaps even more so, to the Frisian unemployed. It is indeed said of youth that they would possibly attach somewhat less value to a paid job. That is not evident in the research literature. Unemployed youth are characterised by a traditional work ethic.

Where the well-being of the unemployed is concerned, finances are given central place in the literature. The lack of financial wherewithal is already a problem in itself, but also effects a number of other areas. In regard to well-being, these regularly coincide with what Jahoda has described as the latent functions which are usually filled by paid work. All in all, unemployment is experienced as negative, with the financial consequences seen as the biggest disadvantage. This relates well to the fact that the unemployed are very active in looking for work.

When we concentrate on unemployed youth, some debate seems to be going on. Indeed, authors like Warr and Jahoda, by no means minor players in this area, say that the consequences of unemployment for the well-being of youth could turn out to be not all that bad. Through their parents, after all, they have a certain degree of security. Otherwise things would be such that effects such as boredom, inactivity and aimlessness occur, true enough, but that, as far as, for example, the social contacts of youth are concerned, the consequences of unemployment are not all that bad.

Various writers, however, point out that the shortage of cash is a problem, also for social contacts, particularly because there are no prospects without money (thus the emphasis on the financial consequences of unemployment also applies to young people as well). Only at the start would unemployment be not all that great a problem for young people (the association with a somewhat 'longer holiday' is obvious, but things become different as time goes on). It is evident from comparison of youth for different categories (at school, on the job, unemployed) that the unemployed score less well where well-being is concerned. Particularly among people with a low educational level well-being is said to be slight. People see importance in the status and the earnings of a young 'worker' - 'unemployed' is not an identity.

From the chapter on schemes for unemployed youth, it appears that various of the remarks just made are of importance there as well. For example, we hear from Willis that 'working class kids' strive for the identity of real men, i.e. they want to do a man's job. So viewed, they are carrying on the tradition of their forebears. Thus, what we are really dealing with here is social reproduction. The YTS label, as appears time after time, is experienced as negative identity. The idea of 'real' comes up again, in any case, at different places in this chapter. Women as well as men want real work. Work that relates to their self-image, a self-image that is determined by tradition. Once again: it is in this way that the 'working class' culture sees to the reproduction of the working class, but the youth are able to experience this reproduction as a positive choice. To be absolutely clear about it: for men and women, the career which they have in mind in the context of this tradition has a different content indeed: a real job, or marriage and the career of housewife (even if only to escape the spectre of unemployment).

Real work also implies an aversion to study. That already came up in choice of profession, and it plays a role again in the way the youth value the schemes. All they want to acquire is knowledge which can be immediately applied in work. No merit is perceived in learning elements which are targeted on the longer term, or which are aimed at capacities of another kind (social skills). The evaluation about the projects is not positive mainly because they do not deliver work. They have no immediate relevance. We also see the importance of this immediate relevance in the fact that young people, despite their negative evaluation of schemes such as YTS, want to participate anyway. This is related to their culture, where the basic tenet is the importance of an immediate financial reward. Again money comes into the picture, and we see here an element of social reproduction.

Focused on a region such as Achtkarspelen, it can be assumed that participation in the JWG begins to look like the world of paid work for young people, at least in a certain way. What is involved, then, are the changes of workplace which, according to one author, are common both in this world and the projects (and the JWG). This is perhaps related to the seasonal pattern which is usual for many in the region - and therefore fits with the regional economic culture - but it is possibly also to the detriment of an objective of the JWG. This objective is bringing unemployed youth to a regular paid job. Achieving this objective, it turns out, actually depends on the local economic situation. No significant role is played here by what is contributed in JWG-type programmes. It can even be the case that the JWG label has a negative influence - thus reducing the chance of work - although there are also indications that the programme is used as a recruiting mechanism (a long probationary period, but with a clear chance of a job).

In chapter 4, an attempt has been made to raise the matters discussed in the preceding 3 chapters to a higher level of theoretical abstraction. To this end, the central idea of human capital is introduced to begin with. Briefly summarised, this theory assumes that it is meaningful to invest in (your) human capital because such an investment pays back its costs later (e.g. with a higher income). It can be assumed that considerations of this type are at the root of programmes such as the JWG - according to the reasoning behind it, investing in job experience and education will result in profit in terms of a (greater chance of a) job. This is in itself a considerable gain compared with a situation of unemployment, which can also manifest itself very directly for people in the fact that the wages will ordinarily be higher than the benefit payment.

The premises sketched here are detectable to some extent in the economic behaviour of people: 'An important outcome of the human capital revolution has been the finding that, in fact, youths respond significantly to economic incentives in their educational decisions.' It may also be assumed of the JWG youth that they indeed realise the rationality of this argumentation - which is not yet to say, however, that they modify their actual attitude and behaviour to suit.

Central to the explanation of this paradox is the concept of social reproduction. The idea, again summarised in a few words, is that people shape their attitudes and behaviour on what has been presented to them from the culture indigenous to the region. This is how that culture is produced. Here, and this is not without importance, this culture must be seen as part of a greater whole. We have to keep in mind '...the complementarity of sub- culture distinctness and total-culture coherence.' The indigenous regional (sub)culture is a component of greater wholes, e.g. designated geographically as Fryslân and the Netherlands or socio-economically as 'working-class'.

In line with these theoretical reflections, the problem definition of this study is formulated in chapter 4:
Are there local-regional cultural factors in Achtkarspelen which influence behaviour in the area of work in such a way that this can be made manifest in the implementation of a general labour market measure?

The general problem definition is developed into four clusters of sub-questions, to which a number of expectations are coupled with regard to the answers. An overview appears in the table below. For the underpinnings of questions and expectations, see chapter 4.

Problem definition, sub-questions and hypothesis

Problem definition

Are there local-regional cultural factors in Achtkarspelen which influence attitude and behaviour in the area of work in such a way that this can be made manifest in the implementation of a general labour market measure?

Sub-questions and hypotheses

A) Culture
1 Regarding the population to be investigated, are specific cultural factors identifiable in the area particularly where 'work' is involved. If yes, specify these factors?
1a Binding to the region will occur as a specific local-regional cultural factor.
1b As more class-specific cultural factors, a conventional choice of occupation and an aversion to study are expected. For woman, this choice of occupation can also be expressed in a preference for marriage and having children.
1c A preference for outdoor work will occur, particularly among men, as a region- specific colouring of the conventional choice of occupation (put another way: as a region-specific detailing of the preference for traditional working class jobs.

B) Attitude and behaviour in the labour market
2 How do youth experience their unemployment? What aspects are of importance in their experience?
3 Are youth looking for work? If yes, what kind of work should that be and how do they conduct the search? If no, what is their attitude regarding the labour market?
2a Unemployment is experienced negatively. The shortage of cash is central here. Phenomena such as boredom and aimlessness will also occur, and the lack of future prospects will also be of importance. As far as future prospects are concerned, the expectation is that males will find it more of a discomfort than females. Men will not be able to fill their traditional bread-winning role, while women can still hope to find a partner who will become a bread-winner.
3a The youth are looking for work That work will have to be real, i.e. it must relate to their self-image (see also hypotheses 1b and 1c).
3b To the extent that work is not sought, this will mainly occur among women who have a preference for the 'plush' of the JWG until that partner comes along.
3c Work will be sought chiefly in the own region. The readiness to leave the region will be slight (see also hypothesis 1a).

4 How did the unemployed youth come into contact with the JWG and how were they then brought into the measure? What were their expectations at that time? What activities (i.e. work, possibly at more than one place, and training elements) have they been engaged in? How do they value these activities?
4a Regarding the (expectations of) the yield of the JWG attention will be drawn to the restrictions of the economic situation in and around Achtkarspelen. The importance of job experience will be underscored.
4b All activities which, according to the youth, are not directly related to (their image of) the world of real work are valued negatively, particularly school-type learning elements. Also of importance in this connection is that the youth will not appreciate the label of 'JWG client' (not the label, therefore, of a real employee).

D) Integration
5 What is the relevance of the results of the study in the light of human capital theory? What do these results teach us regarding the theoretical approach in which the notion of 'social reproduction' takes central place? As far as the line of approach in this study is concerned, is it also possible to make statements about the relation between these two theoretical approaches?
5a The starting point of human capital theory - investing in one's own human capital delivers profit - will be endorsed, true enough (see 4a), but will not result in any adjustments in behaviour.
5b Such behaviour will be determined by traditions and customs, partly bound to the region and partly to social class. In other words: the findings will relate to the theoretical approach of social reproduction.
5c This means that human capital theory must be amended with reference to the theory of social reproduction.

A variety of research methods have been used to find answers to the problem definition. A survey was carried out among the JWG clients which closely followed the lines of a study conducted by the Fryske Akademy among Frisian youth (16-26 years old). This provides the possibility of comparing the JWG clients and Frisian youth (and now and then even their Dutch peers) on a number of factors. Such comparison is necessary in order to determine (any) regional specifics - a characteristic can only be defined as 'exclusive', after all, in comparison with others which do not have this characteristic, or which have it to a different degree (e.g. less strongly or even more strongly). Moreover, a large number of questions about the JWG were included in the survey questionnaire. These involve, for example, the road these people were on before they came to the JWG, about their life in the JWG and about (expectations concerning) the time after the JWG. Approached by telephone in conducting the survey were 159 youth who were in the JWG as of May 1993 or who had been in it earlier. 97 youth responded. There is no reason to assume that these 97 young people are not fairly representative for the whole population.

Additionally, because it is known that it is no easy matter to 'capture' all nuances from the real world in a questionnaire with standard answer categories, so-called in-depth interviews were conducted with 19 youth - 15 JWG participants and 4 ex-participants (as of May 1993). Via the history of the participant (school, social origins), attitudes and behaviour towards and within the JWG were brought up in these interviews, as well as expectations and ideals for the period after participation in the scheme. Also to be accounted to the qualitative part of the study is the contact maintained with the municipal officials of Achtkarspelen responsible for the JWG.

2 Empirical facts

2.1 Getting acquainted with the (ex-)JWG clients from Achtkarspelen

In chapter 5 we became acquainted briefly with JWG clients from Achtkarspelen. The related data were taken from the survey. We have seen that the survey involved young people, mainly women. In general, they have a socio-economic background which can be characterised as 'simple'. Both the educational and professional level of (the great majority of) the parents as well as their own education levels indicate that they can be accounted to the lower socio-economic classes (in other words: the 'working class'). As far as that is concerned, the (prior) own unemployment can be seen as a signal. Prolonged living in the parental household, compared with the Frisian average among youth, also points in the direction of the socio-economic underside, just as does the low income level from the same comparison.

By way of anticipation of the next chapter, it can be further pointed out that the JWG clients seem to be very Frisian, while, in all likelihood, they also have rural roots (this is indicated by the figures with regard to philosophy of life).

2.2 Traces and influence of an indigenous culture

Chapter 6 had two objectives. The first was to look into, with the aid of the survey material, whether traces of a specific culture are still to be found in the Achtkarspelen region. Secondly, an answer was sought to the question of whether that culture (i.e. the characteristics under study here) is still exerting an influence on attitudes and behaviour concerning work.

As far as the first question is concerned, the easiest course appears to be to summarise the results with regard to the characteristics investigated in the conclusion that the JWG clients are 'special' (and therefore, in line with our approach, that the culture of the region is 'special') concerning attitude with respect to school as an institution, attitude with regard to the traditional roles of man and woman (also important in this connection are the bindings with regard to choice of profession, i.e. expectations) and the work ethic (with the accent, in this latter case, on youth who come from the so-called heathland villages), while at least in the Frisian context regional rootedness is less 'different'.

It is true that the discussion in sections 2 through 6 of chapter 6 can be summarised in such a way - but this does not yet mean that such a summary is therefore justifiable. After all, in regard to attitude towards 'school' and choice of profession, it must be considered that the JWG clients from Achtkarspelen show a pattern that corresponds with that of youth of the same class from elsewhere. Besides, it has already been indicated that the JWG clients from Achtkarspelen in all likelihood correspond with youth from the Netherlands as a whole as far as the position of man and woman are concerned - while De Goede et al. hold that a more progressive attitude in this respect can be considered as a Frisian characteristic. And where Frisian identity is involved, it is perhaps true that the JWG clients do not occupy a position of their own, but neither is their 'rural standpoint' the same as the Frisian average.

What matters is that it seems inappropriate to expect that a region occupies an exclusive position for each of the elements from which any indigenous culture is built. In other words, the culture indigenous to the region of Achtkarspelen, to the extent that it can be characterised by the factors discussed here, is a unique combination of the scores on characteristics which are rooted in social class (i.e. 'working class', in which case one is dealing with attitude with respect to school as an institution, the choice of profession and the work ethic), in Dutch society (attitude with regard to the position of man and woman, in which the region differs from FrysIân as a whole) and the countryside (rootedness in Fryslân

Regarding the discussion of the second objective of chapter 6, the starting point is the conclusion which De Goede et al. have drawn in their quest for a relationship between regional rootedness (Frisian identity) and attitudes and behaviour related to work: 'our study shows that there is in fact no relation between identification with language and culture of the Frisian region and attitudes to work related behaviour.' It looks as if their train of thought acquires further evidence through Jansma's finding that, for the Frisians, there is no more than a very modest effect from their score on Frisian identity and religiosity.

For the present, it seems best to endorse the conclusion of De Goede et al. True enough, it has become evident that the basic model sketched in section is acceptable for the JWG clients as well as the JIF clients and the lower-educated Frisian youth who live in the countryside, but the fact is that there is no more than one variable which 'works' every time, viz. 'tradrol' (the attitude with respect to the position of man and woman). Particularly the relationship of regional rootedness (via binding to the region) to the work ethic is not significant in any instance. Furthermore, it is precisely for this factor that the sign (+ or -) creates additional confusion; in any case, it does not fit with expectations. However that may be, all in all our results show no (significant) relationship between 'identification with language and culture of the Frisian region and attitudes to work related behaviour.'

Nevertheless, in the exploratory path analysis (LISREL) of section 6.7 a look was taken not only at the relation between regional rootedness (i.e. binding to the region, language behaviour and language attitude) and the work ethic, but other cultural elements were involved in this analysis as well. Here it is striking that, among the JWG clients and among the lower-educated youth who live in the countryside, 'tradrol' does 'better' than among Frisian youth in general, whereas 'school' is significant for this latter category and of fair importance, and not for the other two categories. This brings me to the supposition that the work ethic in Achtkarspelen apparently supports a different 'cultural repertoire' than that for the average Frisian youth.

As said, the outcomes of the path analyses for the JWG clients and those for the lower- educated Frisian youth who live in the countryside correspond nicely. This underscores once again the earlier finding that the culture indigenous to the region of Achtkarspelen, as found among the young JWG clients, is, as already noted above, determined in part by rural characteristics and in part by socio-economic position (this generalisation points to the influence of the low level of education).

In any case, the fact should not be overlooked that this is an exploratory analysis. The JWG clients from Achtkarspelen should not be lumped together with all youth from that municipality and certainly not with all inhabitants of the region, while the variables being worked with must be considered as approaches to what they are intended to represent (this applies particularly to the operationalisation of the work ethic as attitude and behaviour in the area of work). Not included here, furthermore, are other possible factors, disturbing or supporting the pattern. We will return to this question when the results of the study are evaluated.

Furthermore, it must be said (as hypothesis to be tested for further research) that the material presented here suggests that the special place allotted to the so-called heathland villages in the older literature is perhaps no longer completely justifiable today. The question is whether this can be accounted for. Naturally one can point to the influence of the 'time' factor: perhaps this older culture has faded away (or, at least, become a part of the greater whole of Achtkarspelen) in the nearly forty years that have passed since the appearance of these studies. But even so: every time that the villages appear in the public debate, it seems that the 'old' image is alive and well in Fryslân Could it possibly be that the descriptions of the heathland were always somewhat exaggerated - even a label such as 'social lawlessness' was used - and that with such over-romanticised descriptions of social life the pre-judgement about such villages was reflected and confirmed at the same time?

2.3 Interviews

The emphasis in chapter 7 lay on data which were collected in interviews, particularly with the (ex-)JWG clients. Such material is of course not reliable in the statistical sense. It is obvious that the effort was towards such a presentation of the material, and this applies all the more to oral interviews, that the emphasis has not come to lie on isolated incidents and exceptions. Rather the other way round, and when the interview material did involve exceptional situations this was clearly stated. Finally, although a reliability test according to the rules of statistics is not at issue - an indication that these efforts were reasonably successful is found in acknowledgement of the sketched patterns by the local authority which was involved in supporting the study.

The first theme that was treated in chapter 7 is learning. Summarising, it can be said that the JWG youth generally realise that extra education can improve their chances in the labour market. They therefore recognise the instrumental value of education (see also chapter 6). They also realise full well that their own educational level is a problem in the personal education-labour market connection. But they generally doubt their own capacities to pursue education, which doubt probably has its roots in their origins. Where things more particularly concern the JWG, courses which, in their view, do not have direct labour-market relevance, are not terribly popular, to put it mildly. However, it must be said at the same time that several people have found a route towards concrete vocational training via the JWG and thus towards a (possible) job as well.

The traditional view of the position of man and woman was confirmed in the interviews and further detailed. The man is the bread-winner and the place of the woman is in the home, at least if there are children - that is the average picture. But an important finding, and a qualification relevant to the labour market for the somewhat longer term is that the women indicate that they want to go back to work when (any) children are somewhat older.

The binding to the region is generally strong: working elsewhere is among the possibilities, but leaving the region (or, more broadly: leaving Fryslân is no real option. The work ethic seems to be strong indeed - at least in the sense that the great value of the JWG for people is that they could go to work (again). Both findings fit and further flesh out what was said in the discussion of these themes in chapter 6.

And next comes life in the JWG, the facility where people end up after a period of unemployment. Only the occasional one had work experience prior to unemployment. After six months without work the youth have to take employment at a JWG workplace. The preparations are already begun after a few months of unemployment. Under supervision of the Labour Exchange and, particularly, the JWG organisation, the youth are funnelled to their workplaces. In the past somewhat extra emphasis lay on finding the most suitable unemployed youth (creaming), but that has not been the case since the JWG programme became legally mandatory.

Efforts are taken to maintain rigid control when people are on the job in the JWG. This cannot always count on the appreciation of the JWG clients - although it appears at the same time that they do manage to find the counsellor if they need her help. It seems not unreasonable to assign a central place to the notion 'dependence' in the relationship with the JWG organisation and the counsellor.

If the question is put in general terms, there is clearly very great appreciation for the JWG. Nevertheless a number of critical remarks were also made in the interviews. The wages are nothing to write home about, certainly not in comparison with those of colleagues who do the same work, and the status of a JWG client is not automatically that of a colleague. There is indeed understanding for the reasons why one has to change location after a year at maximum, but that realisation does not make mandatory relocation any the more popular.

Actually the core of esteem for the JWG is indicated in the statement of one of the respondents. 'Then I was working - "back in society", they say - and, mind you, that is exactly what it is!'. How 'secure' being back is, however, is not clear. The ex-participants came off well in the first instance, also in comparison with national and Frisian figures. The question is whether things stay that way for these people, and more in general (assuming that there was proportionally rather somewhat more 'cream' among those ex- participants) whether Achtkarspelen can also achieve this score for new generations of JWG clients.

3 Back to the problem definition

3.1 Introduction

The next step that has to be taken is the one in which the problem definition and the empirical facts are confronted with each other. The discussion will first be focused on the four clusters of sub-questions. Then the answers to the problem definition will be formulated.

3.2 The first cluster: culture

The comparison in chapter 6 between the JWG clients from Achtkarspelen and Frisian (and now and then Dutch) youth on their scores for a number of scales has made it likely that traces of an indigenous regional (local-regional) culture are (still) to be found among them. This has been given an extra dimension by the material presented in chapter 7.

Three of these scales refer directly to 'work'. First of all, the work ethic: the JWG clients have a relatively strong work ethic, and this applies even more to those among them from the so-called heathland villages. However, let there be no misunderstanding: as far as work ethic is concerned all of 'Achtkarspelen' (and not only those villages) differs from 'Fryslân'. Furthermore, the path analysis has made it likely that the work ethic in Achtkarspelen is 'borne' by a different cultural repertoire than in Fryslân as a whole. The value of education is admitted and the Achtkarspelen JWG clients also occupy an own position in Fryslân as far as this scale is concerned. When the material from chapter 7 about the education-labour market connection and about learning in the JWG are taken into consideration, this recognition must be interpreted as instrumental: the youth are aware of the facts of life of the labour market, but they themselves have an aversion to study. Where the division of man and woman over 'work' and 'house-keeping' is involved, the JWG clients again occupy a position of their own, at least in comparison with Frisian youth, and this can be described as traditional. There is some 'movement' in this in the sense that, in chapter 7, it also appears that there is an endorsement of the conception that women can return to employment once the children are older - and for a number of female JWG clients this endorsement corresponds with their own wishes.

Additionally, three scales are utilised which refer to regional rootedness, i.e. binding to the region, language behaviour and attitude with respect to the Frisian language. On these scales, the JWG clients differ from the Frisian average in the sense that they are 'more Frisian'. However, their scores correspond with those of lower-educated youth who live in the Frisian countryside. This means that educational level (also an indication of socio- economic level in this context) and countryside determine (in part) the special position in this area.

In this connection, it was already said above that any own culture must not be seen as a closed, exclusive whole. This culture is in contact with larger wholes and is partly determined by these larger wholes - the region-specific must therefore be understood as a unique combination of the scores on characteristics which are rooted in social class, in Dutch society, and in the Frisian countryside. This conclusion makes a perfect fit with the remarks of Schutte (chapter 1) and Valentine (chapter 4) about the complementarity of sub-culture own-ness and the coherence of the larger whole.

As to the expectations which are expressed in relation to this cluster of questions, the following. Binding to the region is indeed a local-regional factor (hypothesis 1a) but cannot be described as specific because this characteristic is shared with lower-educated youth who live in the Frisian countryside. That means that the domain of this hypothesis must be expanded.

There is indeed an aversion to study, and a preference for traditional vocations (judging by the expected vocation at the age of 40). In any case, the traditional vocations for women must be understood as also including the vocation of housewife. More strongly put, the traditional division of roles between man and woman concerning the domains of work and house-keeping are endorsed. This corresponds with the expectations which are set down in hypothesis lb. For that matter, it is to be expected that the standard just mentioned will be qualified in the sense that women with older children may go to work, and want to.

Further to these vocational expectations: the vocations which people expect to exercise by the time they are forty lie close indeed (hypothesis c) to the regional specifies of the preference for traditional working class jobs.

3.3. The second cluster., attitude and behaviour in the labour market

To understand the experience of unemployment, the classification of the functions of work (manifest and latent) made by Jahoda is utilised. Judging by the remarks which the youth have made, the most important disadvantage of (negatively experienced) unemployment for the JWG clients lay in the latent functions. One should particularly think here of boredom, lack of social contacts and, in my opinion, the high social status linked to employment. All this is outstandingly summarised in the statement - typical, in my opinion - of one respondent: 'Then 1 was working, "back in society", they say - and, mind you, that is exactly what it is!'

It is not without reason that this statement of a female JWG client is briefly recalled here - this is also meant as a signal that, as far as the experience of being unemployed is concerned, no clear distinction could be made between men and women (see hypothesis 2a).

In the same way, finances could not be made clearly evident as the biggest disadvantage of unemployment, something which had been expected according to the same hypothesis. Even so, it seems to be going too far to reject the expectation that finances take central place in the negative experience of being unemployed. In chapter 5, after all, it became clearly evident that the financial position of the JWG clients cannot be called favourable. A first indication of this is in the data about their income, which is low in comparison with that of Frisian youth (and they rank anywhere but high in comparison with the income of Dutch youth). Of even more importance is that a proportionally large number of JWG clients still live at home with their parents. This can have to do, of course, with local customs and ties to the home (here, unfortunately, I have no data), but it is more likely to assume that the shortage of cash stands in the way of a transition to an own, independent household (possibly with a partner). This situation echoes exactly the remarks of Coffield et al. about the 'no man's land' of adolescence, without the status of either child or adult (see 2.3.2. 1). Finally, and a little in anticipation of the next section, the fact that money is not unimportant also appears from the remarks in discussing life in the JWG about wages and particularly the fear of the income cutbacks which are incurred.

For all these reasons, I consider the 'outcome' regarding this part of hypothesis 2a to be 'undecided' - although it is quite clear that a more prominent place must be assigned to matters such as boredom as the wording of this hypothesis suggested (see the table).

Virtually all youth are looking for work (and this corresponds with the first part of hypothesis 3a), and the single instance in which this was not the case has nothing to do with women waiting for a partner who will free them from the prison of unemployment. The women did not talk about 'knights on white horses' - and thus hypothesis 3b was rejected. About the type of work that is sought, not enough data have been collected to enable making a statement about the second part of hypothesis 3a ('That work should be real '). Even so, the other data - e.g. about the vocation that people want to pursue later in life or about the work that they do in the JWG - certainly feed the expectation that this part of the hypothesis is close to reality. But a more definitive statement cannot be made in this respect.

A look was also taken at the region in which people hope to find their work. This is generally the own region. Readiness to leave this region is minimal, which confirms hypothesis 3c. This binding to the region was already indicated above as an element of the culture indigenous to the region (incidentally, with roots in the countryside and educational level [class]). The fact that hypothesis 3c can be maintained means it involves a cultural element that is related to attitudes and behaviour in the area of work.

3.4 The third cluster: JWG

What is mainly striking in the stories about contacting and becoming part of the JWG programme is the strict supervision by the local government. A scheme was drawn up with the intention of having people stream in as soon as they qualify for the programme, and it looks as if this really succeeds - before the half-year of unemployment is over, the people have at least been taken up into the process.

The JWG clients identify mainly with one of the starting points of the measure, viz. the acquisition of work experience in order to increase their chances in the labour market. They realise that, to achieve this goal, it may be necessary to do something about training (the other starting point) as well, but they do not apply this in their own case as JWG client. The reasons for this lack of acceptance can be summarised as an aversion to study, also sometimes expressed as having already learned enough.

The kind of work available to the JWG clients is related (notwithstanding an occasional more negative view) to the potentials of the JWG clients and also to their self-image. For the females this implies that the work may be labelled as real, for the males it is not possible to draw a specific conclusion in this respect (due to the small number of boys that were interviewed). Generally speaking, this regularly concerns work in which people do want to go further, although they understand all to well that the chances for a job (notwithstanding a number of positively formulated expectations) are not very great.

This means that the JWG becomes very important, if I may so put it, in 'staying off the streets'. We also see this reflected in the esteem expressed for the measure: through the JWG people are working, and this is exactly what they want. The 'unease' which is then associated with relocation, the insistence on applying for jobs and more of such (in my words) 'intrusive' behaviour by the JWG staff is therefore clearly valued in the negative. Even though there is appreciation for support in problems at the same time. One such problem, and there is actually no solution for it, is that of the status of the JWG clients (not the same as that of a real employee or colleague), a status which is as a rule experienced as low.

It would not be meaningful to repeat here what has already been said about the JWG in the summary of chapter 7. The conclusion may now be drawn that the expectations expressed in 4a and 4b have been confirmed. The importance of support for these expectations is underexposed, particularly also on account of the effect that this support has on the indigenous regional culture. I will return to this in section 5.

3.5 The fourth cluster. integration

There is actually only one example to be found of a youth who (by his own account) consciously seized upon the JWG as a final possibility to increase his chances in the labour market via a long course of training. Most JWG clients do not consider education as a suitable route to the labour market for them, even though they recognise the instrumental value of education. To the extent that personal action relates to the central assumption of human capital theory (investing in one's own human capital yields profit) this involves the acquisition of work experience and other skills directly related to work. As soon as (schooltype) learning is involved, a strong dislike arises.

This means that hypothesis 5a can be maintained, at least if it is assumed (and the discussion in chapter 4 gives reason for this indeed) that investing in one's own human capital was meant (in part) as the pursuit of training courses.

The second hypothesis of this cluster stands up as well. It is not readily possible to make a sharp distinction in this area between traditions and customs which are bound to the region and related to social class (working class) - but what is certain is that the whole has a direct influence on attitudes and behaviour as far as investing in yourself via 'learning' is concerned. This also means, in line with the argument of Te Grotenhuis, that in this region and among these youth the issue is attitudes and behaviour that have been handed down from generation to generation - so we can indeed talk here of the social reproduction of an indigenous regional culture.

As far as the third expectation from this cluster is concerned, we then arrive virtually automatically at the conclusion that, as also had been indicated by Bowles and Gintis, human capital theory and its reach should take account of norms and customs such as they exist (for example) in a region or class. Such norms and customs, such a sub-culture, entail that, in practice, people do not always choose for rational behaviour as it is described in human capital theory. But it is striking that where it can be said of the youth investigated by Willis that they are making a positive choice in choosing for working class jobs, this applies less often among the JWG clients. The choice for one's own region and family can be considered as positive, but the motivations for not learning still tend as a rule towards the negative ('That's impossible for us').

In any event I will return to the relation between human capital theory and the theory of social reproduction in the section on the relevance of the study to policy.

3.6 Back to the problem definition

'Are there local-regional cultural factors in Achtkarspelen which influence attitude and behaviour in the area of work in such a way that this can be made manifest in the implementation of a general labour market measure?'

It is not very meaningful to repeat once again the discussion in sections 3.2 through 3.5; the answer to the central problem definition can be despatched in the first instance in a few words: 'Yes, there are such factors and their influence can be made manifest in the implementation of a general labour market measure.'

With that, however, the last word about the problem definition has not yet been said, as will Particularly appear in the section on relevance to policy.

4 Evaluation

It has been said at different points that this study has an exploratory character. However, now that the problem definition and the related clusters of questions have been answered, it must be said that the research results roughly correspond with the expectations (hypotheses) formulated in advance. Can the study then still be noted in retrospect as exploratory? Clearly, this question is posed in a rather rethorical way. The point is that a study is explorative by definition when empirical data of a limited reach are used for a preliminary confrontation with literature in an attempt to deal with a specific theme. This implies that the answers are by nature preliminary as well and should be further tested with the help of follow-up research. Such follow-up studies should, preferably, be of a triangular character as well. The mere fact that it was possible to come up with answers, however preliminary, is the value of this study. Having said this, what reasons are there to answer the question in the affirmative?

There are different reasons for answering this question in the affirmative. A first reason has to do with the group investigated: JWG clients from Achtkarspelen There were good reasons for choosing for this group - particularly the notion of the possible confrontation of a general programme with a specific culture - and that has produced some results (see also the next section). However, only a limited number of the inhabitants of Achtkarspelen were involved, even though this is of course the exploratory element. Follow-up research should look into whether the region-specific culture can also be demonstrated among the Achtkarspelen youth, among the working class in the municipality or among the population as a whole. The findings of this study provide evidence for the assumption that this will indeed be the case and also point to the direction in which this follow-up research must go.

A second reason is the geographical reach of the study. Could the occurrence of a regional culture be a privilege of Achtkarspelen? That does not seem likely. This naturally does not mean that the hunt must now be opened on sub-cultures - that holds the danger indicated by Valentine and others that so much emphasis will be placed on the 'sub' part that a view of the greater whole will be lost. At the same time, more understanding has been observed lately for the idea that regional cultures are living entities in the area of language and that it is wrong to consider the whole country only via the greatest common denominator where 'language and culture' are concerned.' However, why should this regional identity be restricted - for the sake of convenience, say - to language and folklore? An indigenous culture is possible in the economic area as well. This study is exploratory in the sense that it is an impulse to going further down that path.

Finally, the discussion has been focused until now on attitudes and behaviour in the labour market. However, Van der Ploeg et al. have pointed out repeatedly that knowledge lies dormant in the regional cultural repertoire which can be the basis for new products and, thus, for new income and employment. Recent studies make this potential manifest with the aid of a large number of examples and thereby underscore the necessity to arrive at a re-regionalisation in economic thinking, in any case to the extent that this involves the countryside. However, these regional bodies of knowledge are part of the human capital of people. These people must learn to become aware of these specific forms of knowledge and to convert the economic potential they contain into work and income. This study is theoretically exploratory in the sense that the notion of human capital theory is coupled to regional culture and to labour market policy. How this triad has to be combined to get jobs for people (employers, and particularly - because this is what JWG clients ideally are - potential employees) in a 're-regionalising' way in their region, in their countryside, is a theme that should be given much more attention in research such as has been conducted by Van der Ploeg. But it is clear that thinking in which regional culture is combined with human capital in economic terms can be fruitful.

Moving on to research strategy, it can be said that it has borne fruit. The use of a questionnaire which is closely related to research among Frisian youth has indeed provided the elbow room to compare the JWG clients with (part of) Frisian youth (and even Dutch youth now and then). This made it possible to delineate the own-ness of the JWG clients. The quantitative material has also provided evidence for the position that the work ethic in Achtkarspelen (this as an operationalisation of attitudes and behaviour with regard to 'work') is based on a different cultural repertoire than the average in Fryslân. At the same time this has once more made evident (compare the first part of chapter 6) that this repertoire is partly built up from elements which refer to social class and countryside.

The qualitative material has given further colouring to the region-specific culture (e.g. via the connection which was sought with chapter 6 in the first part of chapter 7) and has also contributed to the support of the hypothesis that relations indeed exist between these cultural factors and 'work'. The use of the term 'hypothesis' in the preceding sentence does indicate that it is necessary to try to define these relations further. In this connection it is also not without reason that the path analysis (LISREL) is indicated as exploratory. Such follow-up research should examine whether it is possible to develop more instruments to help capture 'work'. Because of the available material and the necessity of comparison between the JWG clients and Frisian youth, this operationalisation was restricted here to the work ethic, but it is of course necessary in such a model to bring in matters such as looking for work and work itself.

Unfortunately, showing a relation between regional rootedness and 'work' did not succeed in this path analysis. Nevertheless, qualitative material makes it likely that a relation does exist between one element of this regional rootedness, the binding to the region, and attitudes and behaviour in the labour market. This means that ultimately, yet cautiously, I will treat the conclusion of De Goede et al. that no relation exists between attitudes related to Frisian language and culture and attitudes which have to do with the world of work. It is probably commendable to further develop the instrument taken over from him (the 'binding to the region' important in this connection is built on no more than two statements), in order to then have a second look in follow-up research into the hows and whats of the relation between regional rootedness and 'work'.

The original intention was to have a second interview with the JWG clients as well. That would have made visible what kind of position they have achieved in the labour market after the passage of time and - ideally - what role the JWG played in achieving that position. External developments prevented the pursuit of this strategy. While this may be understandable, the consequence is that, concerning the yield of the Achtkarspelen JWG, something can be said for the situation of the ex-JWG clients only as of May 1993. That picture does not look at all bad, rather the other way around, although the question remains of whether the municipality will succeed in maintaining this rate of success.

5 Policy relevance

A few obvious remarks can be made about the relevance of this study to policy. One remark is aimed at the national government. In labour market policy of recent years, pleas have regularly been made for 'made-to-measure work'. In delineating the potential influence of a region-specific culture, the national government will have to find an answer to the question of whether this made-to-measure work does not also mean that region- specific norms and customs should be more taken into account at regional level.

Another obvious remark is directed at the government in Achtkarspelen. Perhaps this remark may actually be defined as a compliment: it must be said, after all, that the JWG staff succeed in 'mopping up' the unemployed as soon as they qualify for the JWG, while further implementation is also in line with the national conditions. Naturally, there are complaints about what I just designated as the unease which is caused by the staff - but this unease seems necessary to prevent people from 'comfortably lying back' on what Bruinsma. et al. have described as the plush of the JWG.

Perhaps 'comfortably lying back' can also be prevented, at least in the sense of surrendering yourself to the good care of the JWG staff, by giving people their own responsibility to look for a workplace. Now that there are potentially more such places because they can also be sought in the market sector, this presents a good possibility for spurring on youth to access and/or develop their own network. That would mean that, on the one hand, an appeal is made to the traditional way of looking for work (through personal contacts) while, on the other hand, such an approach appeals at the same time to people's ability to act independently and has a stimulating effect. Then, concerning made- to-measure work, a connection is sought in a positive (pro-active) way to region-specific norms and customs.

Perhaps an own personal responsibility in finding a JWG place also has a stimulating effect in the area of courses of training. It does not seem unreasonable, after all, to expect that people not only realise the importance of 'learning', but also want to convert this realisation into action if a job which they have chosen for themselves is involved. By the way, it does seem sensible (and this applies more in general, for that matter) to also work more with made-to-measure work in the area of training, in the sense that the training courses are more sharply concentrated on a direct and personally recognisable interest for the JWG clients in their position in the labour market.

Nevertheless, two critical notes. Although there can be understanding for the fact that it is no easy matter to find places for the JWG clients (certainly not if looking for such places must remain restricted to a small number of organisations because the 'market' is excluded), it nevertheless has to be said that the fact that these places have acquired a structural character (albeit with changing occupancy) begins to look somewhat like being ousted. Recognising this problem is one thing. Coming up with a solution is something else.

Additionally, the success of the measure will be determined on balance by regional- economic conditions. In any case, how to provide these young people with a chance in the labour market instead of a JWG career, paving the way towards a Melkert job or a job pool (or something similar) is a challenge for which this study has no answer either.

In conclusion. Reports such as those on the 'Social lawlessness of youth' (1953, see chapter 1) can be considered as a form of civilisation offensive. The idea was that things could no longer go on in this way, something had to be done. As far as Harkema is concerned, the reaction to such studies, in which even the obliteration of such a village was advocated, is well-known: the people will find a way and that too fits completely in the region-specific culture. However, more than forty years later, we see how the JWG clients end up in a standard module and (and this is what 1 want to stress now) how gradually dependent they are becoming on the government and its general regulations. This is how the ability to act independently is lost.

Perhaps some might tend to say that this involves the weakest brothers and sisters from the region, and that the others will certainly manage to find a way. It must then be pointed out, however, that unemployment is the wave of the future for a large number of people in the region. It used to be that they could more or less get by with being unemployed. That, at least, is the suggestion from the older literature and also from the preliminary research. Policy today, however, is aimed at a form of 'activation' which, in the long term, is bound to imply that anyone unemployed for a lengthy period will be forced into the module of a Melkert job or the equivalent.

This policy certainly merits a great deal of support, for example where social contacts and a meaningful use of time are involved (see also this study) - but it will also have the consequence that 'People will be made to assimilate the capitalist value of total commitment to wage labour, which will lower the chance they have when that wage labour is no longer available. This means that the regional culture is under pressure and the possibilities for social reproduction of this culture become smaller, at least as far as work and the ability to do things independently are concerned. In other words, it seems that the policy objective that lay at the root of that civilisation offensive will be attained in this way after all. And where the theories which were utilised in this study are involved, and without wanting to turn science into a kind of sporting match, the expectation for follow- up research is therefore stated that, via this police, the human capital approach will win. Whether that is truly beneficial is for others to judge.