Youthwork@cyberspace.com : unsanctioned social network site connections between youth work practitioners and young people
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AbstractSocial network sites are online spaces that can be used for interaction between young people and youth work practitioners. The focus of this thesis is social network site interaction that falls outside the guidance of the local authority, through unsanctioned interaction on practitioners’ personal but also work profiles. Twenty one practitioners and fourteen young people were interviewed, using a semi-structured interview guide. Three inter-linked themes emerged through the research process; space and place; trust development and boundary management. Young people wanted to interact with some practitioners through the practitioners' personal profiles but the majority of practitioners would rather interact with young people through work profiles. Young people viewed and trusted these practitioners as friends and were willing to share their personal, but also socially intimate information with them. Most practitioners viewed their relationship with young people as a professional relationship and aimed to maintain personal and professional boundaries. However, practitioners did not extend this same awareness to the boundaries of young people. This was further confirmed by the practice of client searching through a variety of profiles to access socially intimate information of young people. Where practitioners and volunteers lived and worked in the same geographical spaces, these multiple relationships increased uncertainty with regards to unsanctioned SNS interaction. Other practitioners were either fearful or opportunistic of these relationships and used them to gain further socially intimate information about young people or turned a blind eye to these relationships due to uncertainty of how to respond. This thesis extends knowledge and theory concerning youth work practice at a time of change, and also new spaces for interaction online. Civic courage and incentives that outweigh deterrents lead to unsanctioned connections for practitioners. For young people this interaction was based on the type of friendship they perceived they had with practitioners. Studying perceptions regarding this interaction revealed cycles of perpetual negative practice, personal and socially intimate boundaries and different views on the type of relationship that young people and practitioners developed with each other.
CitationConradie, L. (2014) 'Youthwork@cyberspace.com : unsanctioned social network site connections between youth work practitioners and young people'. Professional Doctorate thesis. University of Bedfordshire.
PublisherUniversity of Bedfordshire
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted to the University of Bedfordshire, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Professional Doctorate.
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