The future of work guaranteed: Assembling NEETs in the apparatus of the welfare state

Tom Boland, Ray Griffin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The future of work is partially written in the organisation of the welfare state – particularly in social policies and practices which imagine a vibrant labour market with ever-more employment. Here, we offer a genealogy of the peculiar formulation of the term NEETs, ‘Not in Employment, Education or Training’ as emblematic of a deep cultural and organisational commitment to work. To understand this array of policies, we draw on the Foucauldian concept of the dispositif. We move between the authoritarian valency of the concept as used by Agamben, and the looser Deleuzian assemblage, to investigate the policy, discourses and material structures that guarantee the future of work. NEETS conceptually and practically narrows the broad liminal transition from adolescent to adult into a labour market transition – producing work-ready, employable subjects for any future. The future of work need not be NEETs, but to approach that future we need to attend to the overwhelming policy apparatus and assemblage that holds a post-work future at bay.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)873-891
Number of pages19
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 30 May 2023


  • Apparatus
  • assemblage
  • dispositif
  • governmentality
  • NEETs
  • postwork
  • unemployment
  • welfare state


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