Reclaiming youth work: from evidence-based practice to practice-based evidence.
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AbstractAn abiding criticism of youth work is the inability of its practitioners either to articulate the theoretical basis of their practice or evidence its practical impact (House of Commons, Services for Young People: Third Report of Session 2010-12). This study explores whether, and to what extent, youth workers can articulate their practice wisdom in a form that can generate a body of ‘practice-based evidence’; sufficiently robust to persuade both those responsible for formulating youth work policy and those commissioning services of its efficacy. It develops a model which aims to assist youth workers in this endeavour, designed to support them in contributing to critical debates about the nature of their practice. This thesis is based upon a case study undertaken with a large voluntary sector youth organisation in the north of England. A number of research methods were used in the study including the design of an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded knowledge exchange event, the administration of questionnaires to student youth workers at the University of Bedfordshire and semi-structured interviews with practitioners. The study uses Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) as the lens through which the findings are derived from the data. The findings suggest that youth workers are able to conceptualise and articulate their practice wisdom and that the opportunity to engage in knowledge transfer activities is methodologically extremely helpful. It appears that practice-based evidence can be generated via such a process which helps to make explicit the nature of the work and its impact upon young people. On the basis of these findings, the author presents a model describing the key prerequisites for the generation of practice-based evidence in youth work. However, the current social, political and economic climate in England has meant that the applicability of such a model is entirely dependent upon the political and administrative context in which youth work is practiced. The imposition of tightly demarcated targets and narrowly defined outcomes, together with the individualisation of much service provision for young people requiring case work interventions, has meant that youth work’s phronetic intentions have become obscured, and for some organisations, lost. This is against the backcloth of the needs of the young people being targeted by youth services becoming more complex, requiring a more specialist, therapeutic intervention. The author suggests that the time has come for bolder initiatives utilising critical social pedagogy as a threshold concept which, she asserts may allow the profession to embark upon a process of ‘reclaiming’ its professional roots.
CitationFactor, F. (2016) `Reclaiming youth work: From evidence-based practice to practice-based evidence.` PhD thesis. University of Bedfordshire.
PublisherUniversity of Bedfordshire
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted to the University of Bedfordshire, in partial fulfilment of the reqiurements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
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