Innovation in Youth Work : Creating Spaces for Radical Youth Work?

innovation inyw

The third chapter in the book sees In Defence’s Malcolm Ball, Tania de St Croix and Louise Doherty reflecting on the workshop they ran as part of the Innovation in Youth Work project.

Market values and authoritarianism have become the norm for many working in community and youth roles. This piece encourages you to explore what counts as ‘radical youth work’ in this context.

In Defence of Youth Work (IDYW) is a campaigning organisation that came together in 2009 to defend grassroots traditions of youth work against imposed relationships, targeted outcomes, and the closure of and cuts to open-access and anti-oppressive youth projects. As a group of practitioners, we call for the defence of democratic and emancipatory youth work, based on the following cornerstones: • voluntary relationships between young people and youth workers; • a commitment to critical dialogue; • a focus on anti-oppressive practice; • the valuing of young people’s ‘here and now’ as well as their futures; and • tipping the balance of power in favour of young people.

Reflecting on these cornerstones in the context of radical youth work throws up certain questions, such as: • Do these cornerstones describe youth work today, or would this form of practice be seen as radical in today’s policy climate? • If these cornerstones portray an ‘ideal-type’ of youth work, is this an ideal that is inspiring, affirming, or alienating? • Is it possible to be a youth worker who isn’t doing youth work – or a radical youth worker who isn’t able to practice radically? 

To read in full, hover your cursor on This is Youth Work : The Book  in the brown header at the top of this page and click on Innovation in Youth Work : Thinking in Practice. This will take you to a designated page, where the full pdf of the book can be viewed. The chapter is contained within pages 22 – 25. As ever responses welcomed.

The piece finishes:

Final thought:
Whether it is called being radical, being positive about youth work, being creative or being a ‘troublemaker’, in the words of one of the workshop participants:

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