Document Type

Journal Article


Youth and Policy


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science


School of Psychology and Social Science / Social Program Innovation Research and Evaluation Group




This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of: Cooper, T. (2012). Models of youth work: a framework for positive sceptical reflection. Youth and Policy, 1(109), 98-117. Available here


In the post-welfare state, youth workers need models to articulate the purpose and value of their work to politicians and the public, and to explain foundational assumptions about society, young people, values, and mechanisms for personal and social change. Robust on-going discussion about models clarifies the relationship between theory and practice and enables youth work to make use of advances in knowledge in other disciplines, and to innovate constructively when faced with social and political change. Theorisation of models of youth work flourished briefly in the final quarter of the twentieth century. Renewed models of youth work are urgently needed. To re-start this process, this article develops a Framework for Positive Scepticism Reflection. The framework is then used to review four models of youth work developed between 1978 and 1994, to identify their contemporary relevance and where further theoretical work is required to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century.

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