Neoliberal Salvation Through a Gendered Intervention: A Critical Analysis of Vulnerable Young Women’s Talk
AbstractWithin the United Kingdom (UK) in recent years, disadvantaged young women have been documented as having unmet needs and experiencing gendered inequalities. In response, UK policy-makers have funded early interventions for so-called vulnerable young women. This paper presents a feminist analysis of young women’s talk about their journeys through a gendered intervention (Project X). Data were generated in focus groups during an evaluation of Project X. The focus groups were carried out using creative methods of data collection. The young women were asked to make a storyboard illustrating their journey through Project X and the impact it had had on them. They were then encouraged to reflect on, and talk about, their experiences. A secondary analysis and interpretation of the focus group data took place in addition to that required for the purposes of evaluation. This more in-depth analysis laid bare the various discourses the young women took up in order to make sense of their life experiences and their involvement in Project X. These included neoliberal discourse such as talk of self-improvement, reinvention and aspirations of self-control. These are discussed with reference to the themes of choice and control, vulnerability, governance, and resilience. The social and political implications of the analysis are discussed including a key argument that the young women’s discursive practices reinforce hegemonic gendered identities, neoliberal ideology and existing structural inequalities.
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