The paper, focusing on post-fordist consequences on young adults’ conditions (Gosetti, 2004; Lo Verde, 2005), describes a case study in Genoa, a northern Italy metropolitan context whose labor market situation reflects quite paradigmatically the setting of contemporary crisis, where job flexibility and salary instability reproduce harder job and living situations especially for younger generations (Massa, 2004; Palumbo, Poli, & Torrigiani, 2007). Following the Senian capability approach (Sen, 1973; 1999; Nussbaum, 2000), the research examines the individual conditions of young adults in the local job market, by reconstructing their biographical paths and by exploring relations between work experiences and life trajectories, in order to observe the effects on realization and achievement of adequate individual conditions of well being and doing. Through the combined use of secondary data analysis and the empirical results of a quali-quantitative (Greene, Caracelli, & Graham, 1989; Cresswell, 2003) research strategy, the paper explores multiple dimensions in a capability perspective: from the individual perception of social status in terms of “expected” and “achieved” social conditions (reflecting the explicative dimension of an effective functioning depending on personal status and individual expectations), to the individual definition of effective functioning and related well being, as well as the availability of resources and eventual transition factors that are potentially involved for such achievement. This refers not only to the available resources at individual or household level, but also those set at the institutional level, considering welfare system, occupational policies and trade unions actions for younger people. Such combination of resources and functioning composes a wider horizon reflecting not only individual satisfaction and relevance for aspects like economical and occupational conditions, but extends to consuming possibilities as well to family-life situations (like the chance/choice of setting up a family or having children), consequently involving the overall individual social projection, combining ambitions and desires of younger adults toward their life experiences (Gosetti, 2004; Toscano, 2007).
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