People as agents of the neoliberal project: A longitudinal study of school to work transitions in Spain


  • Iñigo González-Fuente
  • Isabel Pérez-Ortega


youth, transition to adulthood, labour market, neoliberalism, Spain


The main purpose of this paper is to describe and analyse some of the processes through which people acquire labour dispositions working for the neoliberal project promotion in a natural and legitimate way. The authors believe that the transitions from school to work provide an ideal opportunity to study such processes. The research took place in the Spanish village of Colindres from 2013 to 2015. We developed the investigation through an anthropological methodology and used different tools as longitudinal interviews and ethnographic fieldwork. In this way, we selected high school students who share significant features related to their family origins and formative period. The authors conclude by discussing how the salaried classes impose upon themselves those labour mechanics and techniques applied by advocates of neoliberal policies: job insecurity, salary precariousness, labour mobility, time flexibility, and job rotation. In this case, we have found that family, peer group and close community in Colindres establish a framework in which young people naturally learn how to face up to their precarious labour experiences without conflict. Finally, the labour marketplace obtains what it needs: an adult who makes his own free decisions as a precarious worker and a low-level consumer.