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Summary of thesis
This dissertation is about being young and sick and under work clarification in Nav (the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration). Through a qualitative research process, I have investigated how young people who receive work clearance allowance (AAP) experience the situation, and what problem understandings lie behind the policy that is aimed at young people and their situation. Work clearance allowance is an income security scheme for those who have had their ability to work assessed reduced by at least 50 per cent due to illness (Folketrygdloven [National Insurance Act], 1997). The scheme was introduced in 2010 and the political vision was that more people with health challenges should get to work faster, in line with overall goals in welfare policy. A stable trend over several years has been that young people under the age of 30 receive work clearance allowance over a long period of time, most with a background in mental health problems. The dissertation's problem statement is: How do young people experience the situation of being ill and under work clearance?
A critical cultural analytical perspective is the basis for examining how those who receive work clearance allowance experience the situation. The methodological approach and analysis are based on a reflexive interpretive approach. The data material consists of interviews with 14 young adults between the ages of 20 and 30, whereof nine women and five men, who received work clearance allowance.
As a result of an inductive research process, the study primarily shows how young people’s experience of being ill and under work clearance is experienced as work in itself. The young people’s descriptions of living with their health challenges led to an expanded concept of work (Wadel, 1977) being used as a basis for the analysis of the data material. The study shows how mental and physical health problems were important and affected the young people's everyday lives in many ways. Pain, anxiety, restlessness and fatigue made the days variable and unpredictable, and limited their level of activity and pace both in daily chores and in work clearance. They needed that their health problems and the limitations they experienced were seen, understood and taken seriously in the work clarification. The study also shows that young people wanted to enter working life, but the health challenges meant that they did not always succeed. This put them in a particularly ambivalent and vulnerable situation, which can be interpreted in light of the strong importance of wage labor in the society.
This dissertation concludes that the situation as the young people experienced it, is not a passive existence, but consists of numerous activities that can be seen as work. The dissertation thus joins the ranks of research-based knowledge that shows that health challenges have a significant impact on the connection to working life. The work of being ill and under work clearance can be linked to the goal that as many as possible should participate in the working life, and thus contribute to the creation of value in society. The concluding discussion involves that living with health problems is a job that requires time and energy, and must be taken seriously and valued in the policy-making and in the social work with people who are outside work.