Defining youth work: exploring the boundaries, continuity and diversity of youth work practice
Place of Publication
Social Program Innovation Research and Evaluation (SPIRE) group
The general public, politicians and novice youth workers do not find it easy to understand how youth work relates to other forms of work with youth in the education, welfare and recreation sectors. A definition of youth work that delineates boundaries between youth work and other types of work with young people would have a number of benefits. It would make it easier for those outside youth work to understand and value what youth workers do, and to support the conditions required for successful youth work, and would increase the likelihood that youth workers’ roles, skills and expertise would be publicly supported (McKee, Oldfield, & Poultney, 2010). Without this clarity, it is more difficult to challenge the various forms of dubious practice publicly labelled as youth work to the detriment of genuine practice, and youth workers find it difficult to resist the attempts of other professions to colonise youth work and redefine youth work to reflect the purposes and interests of other profession groups.