The theory and practice of voluntary youth work : a case study in one local authority.
This thesis is a study of the tensions and contradictions within and between
the theory and practice of youth work. The relationship between Northenden
Methodist Youth Centre in Manchester and the City Education Department
serves as a microcosm exemplifying the conflicts inherent in the youth work
sector of education. Part One eJC.aminesthe bureaucratic, statutory, social
and historical forces shaping the context within which youth work operates.
Part Two considers the relationship between the Youth Club and Manchester
City Council to determine the significance of the conflicting influences in
The findings of this thesis are that:
Bureaucratic control of voluntary youth work as exercised by local
authorities inhibits its practice in such a way as to conflict with its
expressed aim of responding to the needs of young people.
2 The failure of youth work in practice to abandon the concept of social
control alienates the young. Using Christianity as an instrument of social
control conflicts with the professed aims of committed Christians whose
involvement in youth work arises from their sincerely professed beliefs
which reject such an instrumental view of their ideology.
3 The contradictions inherent in the theory of youth work lead to its
failure in practice to meet many of its stated goals.
4 Youth work ideology posits aims which in practice are unrealisable because
of its failure to recognise the restrictions imposed by the changing
social, demographic, ideological and economic context in which it operates.
These tensions and conflicts result in youth work as traditionally practised
being unable to meet th·e needs of young people. Its idealism militates
against the adoption of realisable goals and often leads to its potential for
good being unrealised. This is shown by its chronic underfunding and lack of
recognition. It needs radically to be revised in its aims and practice to
meet the needs of the next decade.