Young adults as users and objects of welfare services

Sanna Aaltonen & Antti Kivijärvi (eds)

(In Finnish: Nuoret aikuiset hyvinvointipalvelujen käyttäjinä ja kohteina)


Young adults as users and objects of welfare services illuminates the relationships between 16-30 year old young adults and various services provided by the Finnish welfare society. The ways youth, the service sector and labour markets have changed in the past decades calls for a nuanced understanding of their interplay. This volume is an attempt to respond to this demand by compiling recent research on how social and youth policies affect the everyday choices and circumstances of young adults.

The overarching theme connecting the ten articles is an aim to look at services from a youth specific perspective. By this token, the book contributes to the discussion around client friendly services and young adults’ participation. While the main focus is on young clients’ perspectives these are complemented by the viewpoints of professionals and parents. The premise of the book is that when designing and developing welfare services, it is worthwhile to take into account the experiences of young adults. The welfare services covered by the articles range from basic social and employment services to education, housing and youth services and some of the articles refer even to commercial services.

The majority of the articles draw upon qualitative and local datasets that provide analyses of everyday experiences and obstacles related to services. The overall tone is critical but there are plenty of examples that further highlight the importance and positive effects of services in the lives of young adults. In some of the articles the writers reflect their own experiences as participants of projects aiming at developing services. All in all, the variety of the articles can be distilled into two overlapping themes: encounters with young adults and services and the marginalised positions of young adults as service users.

The knowledge produced in the articles is based on the views of researchers as observers between young adults and service providers. The book thus provides answers to how services meet the needs of young adults, what kind of positions are made available for them in services and how their perspective is taken into account in various actions and procedures. Consequently, this book is essential reading for researchers interested in youth and services as well as for professionals working with young adults.

Keywords: transitions to adulthood, activation, professionals, clients, homelessness, young adults, welfare services, encounters, child welfare, consumers, learning difficulties, service design, service needs, basic services, social security, peripheral regions, health services, unemployment