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Title: Passion and resistance : grassroots youth work in a changing policy context
Author: De St Croix, Tania
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis explores the everyday experience of part-time and volunteer youth workers in England who work in open access youth clubs and on the streets. Unlike their managers who are increasingly confined to offices and meetings, they spend most of their time directly working with young people; yet they are often excluded or distanced from decisions about their work, and their voices are rarely heard in policy making. My research takes an activist scholarship approach, employing in-depth interviews, discussion groups, practitioner ethnography (participant observation in my workplace) and policy analysis to explore how grassroots youth workers in England experience their role in a changing policy context. The study paints a picture of passionate and committed practitioners who care about the young people they work with. However, their practice is constrained and transformed by spending cuts, marketisation, performative target cultures and surveillance. Current youth policy is underpinned by a set of ideologies that draw on discourses of the market in the guise of entrepreneurialism. This context restricts the most informal and associational forms of youth work practice, encouraging individualistic and short-term versions that are able to 'prove' their monetary value. Although most of their workplaces are organised around targets and profit and their labour is often exploited, grassroots youth workers do not emerge from this study as powerless dupes. The workers who took part in the study have varied perspectives and yet all are thoughtful and critical in relation to target cultures, market approaches and surveillance. They use various means to negotiate, challenge and resist the situations that they find themselves in, engaging in counter-discourses and creating spaces for alternative practice. The thesis concludes that open access youth work is under threat and yet is surviving as a passionate, principled and reflective practice that values equality, freedom and collective life.
Supervisor: Gewirtz, Sharon Josie ; Cribb, Alan Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available