This study has shown how getting 'inside' life worlds can open up alternative ways for understanding, approaching, and appreciating the challenges and complexities of professional practice in education, training, employment, and guidance projects targeted at young unemployed adults in Europe. Although the scenarios we have offered up thus far are not exhaustive, they provide examples of a broad spectrum of professional interventions encountered in this research. Yet, despite this diversity, common to all interventions in activation projects is the reality of mediating tensions between social and economic participation objectives. Herein lies the core dilemma of professional practice.