Introduction The Netherlands, like all western countries, has to face substantial unemployment figures. Opinion polls as well as policy speeches indicate that unemployment is considered to be a major problem. This has also been reflected in studies on unemployment and the unemployed. Within the group of unemployed people statistics regarding the so-called hard-core' unemployed — also known as the long-term unemployed or nonemployable people — tell us that over 200.000 people are jobless for over a year, some 80.000 even over three years. Another well-known effect is that the longer someone is out of work, the harder it is to find a job, especially a regular job in the primary segments of the labour market. After three months of unemployment the prospects of finding a job diminishes; after being unemployed for two years the chance in getting a job is slightly over 5%. Some 60% of the hardcore unemployed possesses insufficient labour market qualifications and their future perspectives are indeed dim. Within the group of longterm one out of five is younger than 25 years of age. Being long-term unemployed implies at the same time a prolonged dependency on welfare benefits, mostly accompanied by economic problems. Another problem is that unemployment is unevenly spread over the country and some regions and inner-cities find themselves clearly above the national average. This particular study concerning young unemployed, white adults has been executed, at the end of the ’80’s in Drachten (Smallingerland), a medium-sized municipality (slightly over 50.000 inhabitants) in the province of Friesland. The unemployment figures (1989) of the dependent labour force for males are: The Netherlands: 11,2%; Friesland: 14,2%; Region of Drachten 12,3%. In the regional labour market of Friesland young people below 25 years of age are hit disproportionally by unemployment; they account for some 40% of the total unemployment in Friesland (Verhaar, 1990). The question I am interested in is: how do long-term unemployed young men, from different backgrounds, cope with unemployment and living on welfare within the confinements of a local labour market? Do they comply with their position as unemployed and living on welfare or do they resist? What kinds of solutions are acceptable and what kinds of alternatives do they see to alleviate their plight? In this way I can also look into the more illegal solutions from a criminological point of view. Although not all motives will be of an economic nature, there is credence to contend that being unemployed, marginally employed or underemployed are important criminogenic factors (Allan and Steffensmeier, 1989). In reviewing the economics-crime link' literature (Belknap, 1989), however, one can easily become bewildered by contradicting outcomes. Although there seem to be valid grounds to assume a relationship, the implications of different research methods make unequivocal statements regarding the economics-crime link tenuous. In part I of this study the theoretical and methodological foundations are under scrutiny. In part II the results of the study - a typology of lifestyles - are presented. Part III discusses these findings in regard with the central question: the economics-crime link. Thereafter I compare these findings against the backgrounds of some mainstream theories in criminology: strain, social control, subcultural and new subcultural perspectives. The final chapter discusses the merits of the life course method and the sociological implications for employment policy.
|Doctor of Philosophy
|Published - 1997