Sarah Banks on Politics Reclaimed, Ethics Reframed : Part 3

At our November 5 Engaging Critically seminar we were especially pleased to have Sarah Banks, editor of ‘Ethical Issues in Youth Work’, as a key contributor.

Firstly you will find below the slides of her PowerPoint presentation, which she couldn’t use properly as yours truly had messed up ordering the equipment! These represent a succinct introduction to her thesis : Ethics as political : Politics as ethical – Towards an ethical commitment to political resistance.

Ethics as political : Politics as ethical [pdf]

Sarah was at pains to underline that ethics is not a neutral, value-free concept. Thus she mused that the notion of ethics can serve different ends.

Thus the growth of interest in ethics could be perceived as regressive & compliant with managerialism & neo-liberalism.
1.Developing more regulatory codes of ethics.
2.Placing the focus of attention on the relationship between the individual youth worker and young person.
3.Highlighting the responsibilities of youth workers, young people and communities. (‘responsibilisation’).
4.Depersonalising and depoliticising of ethics.


The growth of interest in ethics could be progressive and critical of NPM & neo-liberalism.
1.Reclaiming professional autonomy.
2.Claiming the rights of service users.
3.Reasserting the social justice mission of youth work – bringing the political to the heart of ethics.
4.Reconfiguring professional ethics – bringing the personal back into youth work ethics.

In looking forward Sarah offered as a stimulus to debate

Reclaiming and reframing ethics in youth work
Ethics as personal and political: towards a situated ethics of social justice
•Situated ethics
•Politicised ethics
Values for a situated ethics of social justice in youth work
•Radical social justice
•Empathic solidarity.
•Relational autonomy
•Collective responsibility for resistance
•Moral courage
•Working in and with complexity and contradictions

These bullet points are explained and amplified in the following short paper.


We hope that you will find time to explore Sarah’s challenging thoughts.


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