Intercultural Mediation for the School-to-Work Transition, as a Technique of Neoliberal Governmentality

Publication Type: 
Working Paper
CEU Center for Policy Studies
Place of Publication: 
CPS Working Papers
Series Number: 
This paper focuses on sociocultural/intercultural mediation as a public intervention that aims to promote the school-to-work transition (STWT) of Roma youth at the municipal level. I intend to understand this intervention from Foucauldian theories on neoliberal governmentality (Foucault, 1990; Miller & Rose, 1990). I argue that the fact of offering a service addressing ethno-cultural idiosyncrasies is an act of diverting attention from structural inequalities (Ortiz-Cobo & Bianco, 2020). From this point of view, inter-ethnic relations are represented as inherently problematic rather than a consequence of structural inequalities (Vincze, 2012). Thus, mediation is aimed at the transformation of individuals from othered groups, into adaptable, active and employable citizens who respond to mercantilist rationality (Dahlstedt & Tesfahuney, 2010). Another element of this minority governance is observed in the discourses on empowerment and the taking of autonomy over one’s life (through self-motivation or participation), which is interpreted as a transfer of responsibility from the institutions to the community, civil society and the individual (Pyysiäinen et al., 2017). The empirical data for this study was collected through interviews with a Roma intercultural mediator, a Roma ‘school promoter’, 20 technicians from the municipal public services and 31 young Roma in a medium-sized city in Catalonia (Spain), in 2020 and 2021. Both the interviews and the analysis were carried out by a non-Roma researcher and two Spanish Roma co-researchers. I conclude that although intercultural mediation may facilitate STWT at an individual level, at the same time it contributes to the depoliticization of structural inequalities in STWT. Keywords: intercultural mediation, neoliberal governmentality, school-to-work transition, technology of the self