Youth Work And Social Work

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Youth Work and Social Work

Youth Work and Social Work


Youth work has traditionally considered youth as a period of 'being' as much as of 'becoming' (Davies, 2000, 212). For youth workers, the ideal is to affirm the positive aspects of youth's combined plus individual identities, to enable them to better understand their present. From this viewpoint, they support constructive and reflective understanding in the here and now so as to craft futures which by definition cannot be pre-planned. Therefore the governing philosophy within youth work is one of 'processes rather than 'result'. This does not mean that aimed results are not accomplished, but that they cannot be presumed. Conventionally, youth work is holistic and youths are regarded as in terms of their humanity rather than their issues or 'deficits' (Wylie, 2003, 23).

Literature Review

The youth affairs area has undergone a significant transition in terms of types of issues central to the area and the characteristics of the people working in the area in current years. In order to gain information on a broad range of social and legal issues associated with youth service provision we currently surveyed more than one hundred youth workers throughout Western UK (White et al, 2000, 28). Undertaking a study of this nature required us to be sensitive to the broad range of issues occupied in trying to determine who is a "youth worker" and what kinds of activities can be included under the title of "youth work".(Bauman, 2003)

Unfortunately, there has been much confusion over the question of what is youth work, due partly to the historical growth of this kind of work over the last century (Ewen, 2003, 187; Maunders, 2004, 220; Westhorp, 2008, 18; White, 2000a, 160). The difficulty of defining youth work is also due to the apparent reluctance of many consultants to stipulate a definition of practice simply because to do so inherently limits or restricts who is or is not seen to be occupied in youth work. One result of this has been that debates and discussions over the definition of youth work have generally been inconclusive. (Bessant, 2004)

This is primarily because attention has tended to focus on the seemingly amorphous and notoriously transient boundaries differentiating youth workers from other people who work with youths, rather than placing greater emphasis on the core attributes of contemporary youth work practice. The very nature of youth work means that there will be slippage across any definitional boundary. Nevertheless, the establishment of the uniqueness or singularity of youth work in relation to other forms of practice is essential at an analytical level if we are to speak in more precise terms about youth work as constituting a distinct form of social practice. (Bessant, 2004)

Any definition of youth work must contain elements of both "exclusion" and "inclusion". That is, it requires a set of criteria that differentiates youth workers from others, while still allowing for divergence within the group defined as youth workers. The actual practice of doing youth work lends itself to diverse ...
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