Children and Young People in a Changing World: Action, Agency and Participation

Liverpool hope

IDYW has been invited to be involved in the lead up to this important opportunity to be in dialogue with practitioners across disciplines and professions.

Conference Overview

Liverpool Hope University is pleased to announce a major international conference on childhood and youth:

Children and Young People in a Changing World: Action, Agency and Participation

23rd and 24th June 2016 – Liverpool Hope University

Keynote Speakers

Mary Jane Kehily – Professor of Gender and Education in the Centre for Childhood and Youth Studies, Open University.

Jens Qvortrup – Professor of Sociology at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology

In a rapidly changing world children and young people are subjected to a wide range of social, cultural and economic pressures which impact significantly on their everyday lives. At the same time, these pressures shape educational, social and welfare policies and practices in ways that have direct implications for how professionals work with and for children and young people.

This multidisciplinary conference aims to provide an opportunity to disseminate, discuss and explore research and practice that explore children and young people’s action, agency and participation in responding to such changes and social pressures.

The conference will be of special interest to practitioners working in the fields of Social Work, Youth Work and Education and academics and scholars in disciplines such as Childhood and Youth Studies, Criminology, Education Studies, Social Policy and Sociology.

Conference Themes

Papers are invited that explore children and young people’s voices or challenge current policy and practice with regard to the following themes:

‘Pluralising the educational discourse’

Papers are invited that seek to challenge the dominant discourse in education, critiquing and arguing for a wider approach to educational thinking, policy and practice that incorporates children and young people’s voices. We would particularly welcome papers that explore: aspects of the plurality and multi-dimensionality of education; the influence of the dominant educational discourse on practice and policy; the role of children, young people and adults in shaping and implementing educational practices and values; ways and approaches of agency and participation.

‘Individual and collective agency and political participation’

While children and young people face a range of challenging situations brought on by changes in family circumstances, educational settings and economic and social policy reforms, they do not necessarily experience these merely as passive victims. Rather, children and young people often have an intelligent awareness of surrounding events, and may be active as participants, decision-makers, problem-solvers or campaigners as they negotiate their way through such challenges. From the family to educational settings, from community activity to engagement in politics, this stream invites papers that explore the ways that children and young people can be, and have been, pro-active in challenging and changing the worlds around them.

‘Children and Young People and the Challenges for Social Work’

The climate of austerity and welfare reform has resulted in major changes in the nature of social work provision. These have had a major impact on the ways in which social workers and other service providers work with and for children and young people. We invite papers that encourage critical discussion of policy issues and practice initiatives shaped by these reforms. We are particularly interested in papers that challenge dominant policy and practice conversations and which address the concerns of inequality and poverty experienced by children, young people and families. Papers that highlight new ways of thinking about children’s lives are also welcomed.

‘Childhood and Youth (still) in Crisis?’

There has been a long standing discussion and debate about contemporary childhood and youth being in a state of ‘crises’. To what extent was this ever true, and to what extent does it provide a helpful framework understanding children and young people’s lives today? How have children and young people been affected by the rise of consumer society dominated by mass marketing, digital media and a range of social, economic and educational pressures? We invite papers that draw on children and young people’s voices and experiences in relation to these questions. We particularly welcome papers that focus on topics such as: children and young people’s experiences of risk practices relating to alcohol, drug-use and sexual activity; how children and young people are affected by the commodification and digitalisation of the social world; how sexualised media and social networking impacts on children and young people; and young people’s concerns for the future.

‘Youth and Community Work’

Youth and Community Work is facing increasing pressure to prove its worth, working with young people to deliver predetermined outcomes through time-limited contact. Government cuts to budgets continue to have devastating consequences for the most marginalised and vulnerable people and on the practice of youth work. Where services do remain youth workers are struggling to navigate the new terrain, whilst maintaining ethical integrity. However, throughout the history of youth and community work there is a distinct tradition of innovation and diversity with proactive and creative practitioners shaping and influencing agendas based on community needs. This conference will provide a space for youth and community workers, young people and academics to explore the context of youth and community work in contemporary society. Papers will be considered that aim to reflect critically on aspects of youth and community work practice.

‘Children and Young People on the Margins’

Austerity and cuts in welfare spending in the UK and Europe, and civil war and economic crisis in many parts of the globe, have had devastating consequences for the lives of millions of children and young people. Many are suffering as a result of such challenges, often facing very uncertain futures. Such issues are particularly salient for children and young people who are forced to the margins of society. We invite papers that explore the action, agency and participation of marginalised children and young people affected by current economic and political circumstances. In particular we welcome papers addressing issues of class, gender, poverty, ethnicity, disability, migration and asylum as they relate to children and young people.

Paper title and abstract of no more than 250 words should be submitted to Dave Merryweather at

Please indicate which theme you wish your paper to be included in.

Closing date for abstracts is 28th February 2016.
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