Social and professional integration, addictive behaviours and time perspectives: personal experiences of young adults involved in a low-threshold employment program in Montreal
Background and aims: The ‘TAPAJ’ (Alternative Employment Paid each Day) program is a low-threshold employment intervention targeting the street youth (16-30 years old) living situations of unemployment, precariousness and social exclusion. However, its outcomes regarding this population remain currently poorly understood. Time perspectives, a subjective dimension referring to how one individual perceives and considers his past, his present and his future, appears to be a significant resource related to individual behaviour change, especially regarding psychoactive substance use as well as social and professional integration trajectories. Main objectives of this research project are the following: 1) To gain a better understanding of the subjective time experience and of its evolution over time; 2) To describe individual substance use, social and professional reintegration trajectories, while associating them with time perspectives; 3) To explore whether TAPAJ influences the individual time perspectives, and whether these time perspectives will act in return on the user experience of the program.
Methods: This research is part of a greater participatory research project. Data collection started in January 2019 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Our sample includes 20 young adults, aged from 16 to 30, recently involved in the ‘TAPAJ’ program. In accordance with our objectives, thematic analyses will be carried out on the content of semi-structured interviews, examining personal experiences of young adults substance users. These analyses will fall within the symbolic interactionism paradigm, which will help us to better grasp individual perception of time and how it can be affected by social environment, peers or stakeholders, for instance.
Results: Our analyses provide in-depth details regarding: (1) the participant’s current definition and perception of his/her past, present and future; (2) his/her thoughts on how and why this perception may have changed over time. According to our objectives, other relevant findings are related to individual trajectories describing professional reintegration, including participants’ involvement within the TAPAJ program, social relationships and substance use. Analyses then highlighted how each of these individual trajectories evolved over time, and how this was specifically affected by changes in subjective time perspectives.
Conclusions: This study allows us to better understand the interaction between change in time perspective and individual trajectories (i.e., trajectories of substance use, social and professional reintegration). Moreover, our work provides a better knowledge of the TAPAJ program outcomes and may be useful in the overall improvement of interventions offered to this specific population. Last, collaborative efforts of researchers, stakeholders and participants generate a constructive dynamic about the time perspective thematic field, while questioning its implementation in daily practice.