Negotiating youth work : moral geographies of the Boys' Brigade in Scotland
The sites and settings of structured youth work have been a neglected sphere of study in contemporary human geography. This thesis addresses this silence through an examination of The Boys’ Brigade – a voluntary Christian uniformed youth work movement. Limited in geographic scope to Scotland, the thesis draws upon a multiple-methods research strategy comprising: a mail-based questionnaire, semi-structured interviews, and a period of participant observation, incorporating participatory approaches with boys. Resting upon Foucouldian theoretical foundations, and written with audiences both within and without academia in mind, the thesis argues that a failure to appreciate the spatialities of structured youth work settings invariably results in partial accounts of both the motives underpinning their voluntary provision by adults’ and boys’ participation in them. More specifically, it suggests that the spaces of structured youth work are realised through small-scale processes of negotiation between boys and adults that stabilise a shared spatio-temporal regime – a structure – through which youth work is conducted by both adults and boys. It contends that it is space itself, and particularly its purposive ordering, that is both enlisted and resisted to achieve this fleeting stabilisation with its attendant disciplinary and developmental ends. In so doing the thesis delivers an analytical framework through which other spaces of structured youth work can be read that, by remaining alert to the interweaving of the geographies of voluntary provision and participation, neither overplays adults’ nor downplays young people’s agency in their creation.