Social Policy and Society

Articles

In a Lonely Place? Social Networks, Job Seeking and the Experience of Long-Term Unemployment

Colin Lindsaya1

a1 Employment Research Institute, Edinburgh Napier University Business School E-mail: c.lindsay@napier.ac.uk

Abstract

Combating long-term unemployment remains a central strand of policies to promote social and labour market inclusion. One area of increasing concern is that the long-term unemployed (and especially those residing in disadvantaged communities) can find themselves isolated from the diverse social networks that can contribute to effective job seeking. This article draws on interviews conducted with 220 job seekers in two areas of high unemployment within the city of Glasgow to investigate: whether long-term unemployed people in these areas struggle to access social networks for job search; and the extent to which long-term unemployment is in itself associated with a more general erosion of social/community relations and a withdrawal from what has been termed the ‘tertiary sphere of sociability’. The article concludes with a discussion of the potential role for social policy in seeking to help the long-term unemployed and other job seekers to develop and broaden social networks and activities.