Gainful unemployment: using a dialogical psychology to intervene in unemployment - PhDData

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Gainful unemployment: using a dialogical psychology to intervene in unemployment

The thesis was published by Mahendran, Kesini, in September 2022, University of Stirling.


This qualitative inquiry built on a relational and dynamic epistemology, distinguishes
between four psychologies of unemployment, agency-deprivation, social perception,
self-perception and finally dialectical. Within a dialectical psychology of
unemployment a dialogical analysis is developed which takes the locus of intervention
in unemployment as the interaction between unemployed people, those that work
with them and the social knowledge that surrounds the phenomenon. The inquiry
uses a longitudinal participatory action approach with two training and guidance
centres in Central Scotland, ‘Strategic Delivery’ and the ‘Young Person’s Centre’
between 1999 and 2001. This involved participant observation on the New Deal and
Skillseekers; training programmes, meetings and interviews with managers,
unemployed clients and front-line staff. 14 young people were followed through their
pre-vocational training between January 2ooo and April 2ooo and follow up
interviews were carried out in February and March 2ool. The study also involved
social consultancy on measuring soft skills at SD and developing a person-centred
approach at the YPC, where the YPC became understood as a multi-voiced
organization[Bakhtin (1986)].
The inquiry produced actions, recommendations to the organizations and
interpretative findings around the use of a dialogical analysis. Three co-created
‘actions’ on self-assessment measures for unemployed people are described. The
study recommends that two key foundational concepts in the area of unemployment
‘social inclusion’ and ’employability’ need to be reconsidered for this cohort of young
people where 42.9% remain unemployed at the end of the research.
Finally in making sense of organizational change the study explores the extent to
which managers within the YPC were in a dialogue with the socio-political discourse
and the movement in meaning of the term ‘person-centred’. The study points to the
importance of organizations developing an authentic dialogue with their client group.
It assesses the role that psychology is playing in the current dominance of a self-perception
psychology of unemployment.

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