On this page we bring together longer pieces of critical comment and analysis.  We’re keen to receive contributions written in a diversity of forms. Please contact us if you’ve got something to say, but are not sure if it’s proper! We’ll probably love it and are more than happy to chat with you about your doubts.


Conor Rowley argues that youth work must situate itself in a way that is active, ethical and in harmony with its principles.



The notes of  Tony Taylor’s contribution to the 2007 Federation of Detached Youth Work conference, which was focused on the Citizenship agenda.



Tania de St Croix’s insightful summary of the discussion she facilitated at the 2008 Federation of Detached Youth Work conference.



Phil Scraton sends us the flier for the July 2008 edition of the Australian journal, Current Issues in Criminal Justice, and two articles from its pages, his own introduction on ‘The Criminalisation and Punishment of Children and Young People’ and a piece, co-written with Deena Haydon, on ‘Conflict, Regulation and Marginalisation in the North of Ireland : The Experience of Children and Young People’. He concludes that ” Advanced democratic states that utilise the language of  rights compliance, of ‘children’s best interests’, of active participation and civic responsibility are remarkably ambivalent in establishing means through which children – regardless of class, race, cultural tradition, gender, sexuality or age – can realise opportunities that help frame their daily lives, build their self-esteem and constructively challenge the status quo”.


Criminalisation of Children and Young People

Conflict, Regulation and Marginalisation

Detached Youth Work and Democratic Education

Around a year ago we pondered whether the Nuffield Review of 14-19 Education and Training would have any impact upon the State’s social policy. The question remains pertinent. Nevertheless it’s good to see the appearance of  Graeme Tiffany’s submission focused on the relationship between informal education in the guise of detached youth work and the prospect of an authentic democratic education or paideia. His perspective raises many issues for contemporary youth work in general.

Detached Youth Work and Democratic Education


Reclaiming Social Purpose in Community Education

Yet again our friends north of the border have come up trumps with a collection of papers presented to a symposium at the University of Edinburgh on 9th November, 2007.  The aim of the gathering was to develop a response to the current state of professional practice and to rearticulate a sense of social purpose within community education.  The organisers from the universities of Edinburgh, Strathclyde, Glasgow and Dundee hope that the papers “will be useful in making the case for a renewed sense of professional identity and public service.”

Contents are:

Community Education: A Mirror & A Shield: David Wallace
Reclaiming Social Purpose: Framing the Discussion: Ian Martin
Policy, Politics & Practice: Community Development: Mae Shaw
Policy, Politics & Practice: Adult Education: Kathy MacLachan
Policy, Politics & Practice: Work with Young People: Annette Coburn
Rearticulating Professional Identity: Lyn Tett
Learning for Democracy: Ten Propositions & Ten Proposals: Akwugo Emejulu

The Edinburgh Papers

DEBATING YOUTH JUSTICE – from punishment to problem-solving

Courtesy of Phil Scraton, we bring you the thought-provoking debate fuelled by Rob Allen’s call for a fundamental overhaul of the youth justice system. Within the discussion Phil criticises the absence of an acknowledgment of power and exploitation in Allen’s analysis and the empty posturing of New Labour’s project of ‘moral renewal’.

The Future of Youth Justice

Community Development and Democracy – reasserting the connection

At a conference in September 2007 on the theme of ‘Democratising Democracy ; A new social purpose agenda for adult education’, Mae Shaw of the Edinburgh University presented this devastating critique of the distortion of Community Development’s purpose and principles over the last thirty years.  Addressed in comradely fashion to adult educators, the issues raised are just as relevant to youth and community workers across the board. An essential element in resisting the State’s instrumental agenda is an honest recognition of the ways in which the State and its bureaucracy  have hijacked and turned against us the rhetoric of empowerment, equality and participation.  This is required reading.


The denial of children’s rights and liberties in the UK and Northern Ireland

Written under the banner of the European Civil Liberties Network, Phil Scraton’s examination of the arrival of ‘Anti-Social Behaviour’, argues ‘that under the auspices of inter-agency cooperation and the promotion of collective responsibility, the veneer of risk, protection and prevention coats a deepening, almost evangelical commitment to discipline, regulation and punishment’, from which a recognition of the social, political and economic circumstances is virtually absent. Presently Professor of Criminology at Queen’s University, Belfast, previously Director of the pioneering Centre for Studies in Crime and Social Justice at the Edge Hill University College, Phil was a good friend to Youth Work in both West Lancashire and Wigan, and remains so in the Six Counties.

The Denial of Children’s Rights

Everyday Youth Work

Jean Spence explores from the inside the research project, ‘An Everyday Journey, discovering the meaning and value in youth work’, which concluded with the report, ‘Youth Work: Voices in Practice’. Her conclusion that as far as practice goes, ‘what is at present marginal has most value’, poses profound questions. Your thoughts appreciated.

An Everyday Journey

Together We Can. Can We?

An open culture of debate is one of the best ways to protect community development – and democracy so says Mae Shaw from the University of Edinburgh.

In this challenging critique Mae exposes the tensions and contradictions to be found in the differing uses of the concepts of community development, democracy and empowerment. She is particularly keen to stimulate debate around these issues. Your comments welcomed.


Taking Sides: Radical Youth Work

We are more than pleased to publish Tania de St Croix’s  thoughts on the possibility of reflecting upon and renewing a Radical Youth Work Practice. Originally a dissertation Tania has  erased from the piece the innumerable brackets demanded by academia. Whatever, we think it’s a damned , good read, genuinely struggling with the personal and political and well worth your attention.


Dissent protects democracy – should we really be partners with the State?

On this link you will find Matthew Scott’s thought-provoking piece on the relationship of the voluntary and community sector to the ‘managerial’ state. His call for collective resistance is music to our ears. In many ways this article paved the way for our positive relationship with the National Coalition for Independent Action.


To kick things off, find attached the first piece to appear under our name, where Tony Taylor offered a trenchant critique of New Labour’s ‘Youth Matters’, its impact upon the last vestiges of an ‘independent’ Youth Service and pondered what might be the basis of resistance.


Published on November 19, 2008 at 9:53 pm  Leave a Comment  

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