Accommodating to and Resisting the Targeting Culture

As we noted in our previous post the final session at the conference attempted to face the dilemmas posed for the practitioner by the dominance of the outcome and target-led culture.

Small groups used as a prompt for discussion the attached chart and definitions of some possible responses to the current attacks on youth work – developed from a National Coalition for Independent Action enquiry report into local activism and dissent. (Here we Stand – summary available at Groups were tasked to ask themselves the questions: “Am I resisting, and if so how?” and “What ‘resistance’ messages should IDYW take away?”

Accommodating to and Resisting  – the chart

We hope colleagues in the field might find the chart useful for (individually but especially collectively) examining their own current work situation and asking themselves if and how current policies can be resisted in defence of the kinds of practice which they came into youth work to offer young people.

The chart offers the following tentative definitions – in no order of priority!

Faced with policies currently affecting youth work (organisational; local; national), do you see yourself (perhaps on your own and/or with others) responding in any of the following ways:

Actively dissenting
Openly challenging the current situation?

Subversively dissenting
Operating ‘in and against’ your organisations – trying to get change silently from within?

Staying self-reliant
(Perhaps in principle) working independently as a form of non-conformist dissent?

Potentially dissenting
Perhaps feeling uneasy about or having a clear critique of what is happening but unsure if and how to express these feelings?

Reconciled accommodating
Adjusted to and reconciled to working within current policy frameworks etc?

Resentfully accommodating
Perhaps after previously dissenting but feeling unsupported, isolated etc, though still not reconciled to present policies seeing no alternative but to toe the line.

Feeling positive about and supportive of your organisation’s policies

Responding in ways not captured by any of the above

In terms of messages from this exercise for our Campaign the following were flagged:


 The need for Collective action


 The need to combine the national campaign with regional campaigning, the creation of regional groups and representatives


 More energy to be put to researching alternatives to the present way of doing things


Build communities of shared practice – again at local and regional levels


Stand together with young people


Raise awareness and break the mould


Dissent personally but choose our battles


Self education networks – a revival of doing things together in our own time


Share practical stories – where good youth work is happening, and where people have not been able to do youth work, how they have resisted


Share tactics for resistance


Summarise research so it is more easily digestible


More involvement of students


Practitioner networks


Study days and conferences



In respect of all these suggestions the onus is on all of us to make them happen. At  the next Steering Group we will discuss further and come back to the collective, that is our Campaign. Nobody else will do it for us.



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