The NiNi status in Mexico City: A Qualitative Case Study Analyzing Everyday Life through the Lens of Performance from the Cultural and Historical Activity Theory Open Access
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This qualitative case study examined the everyday life activities of 16 young people living in NiNi status in Mexico City. The term NiNi comes from the Spanish words Ni estudia, Ni trabaja [neither study, nor work]. The purpose of the study was to better understand their everyday life experience, their meaning-making and learning processes, and their impediments to their development. The conceptual framework is grounded in the perspective of performance of the CHAT tradition that examines the processes that are constitutive of who these individuals are and who they are becoming (Holzman, 2009). The researcher analyzed the everyday life activities of 16 individuals in NiNi status and 12 working adults to conduct a historical comparison.The study identified five main findings associated to the research questions. First, young people in NiNI status perform a variety of activities, mainly non-remunerated, such as household chores, taking care of children, performing arts and sports, and temporary work in low-level and informal jobs. Second, meaning-making processes reveal that they feel trapped in "a system of not progressing". They live in a continuous paradox of not having resources to do what they want to do. The negative labels that society puts on them makes them feel inferior and excluded. Third, young people learn by creative imitation when they create zones of proximal development in collaboration with their networks. Fourth, the lack of opportunities at school and work creates a movement away from institutions that reinforces the informality in the Mexican labor market. Fifth, the main impediment to their learning and development is their isolation that does not allow them to learn from more expert people's key skills to foster their economic independence and future integration as productive members of society.A major contribution of this study is to bring the perspectives of these young people to balance the negative views that society has about people living in NiNi status. Their voices reveal the need for greater opportunities and support to "level the playing field" and to overcome cultural and historical limitations faced by these young people. The current worldview wrongly positions the "problem" at the individual level and not at the group or societal level.