Youth Work: The Possibilities for Critical Practice

YouthREX Research Summaries get at what the youth sector needs to know!  

 This summary provides a concise overview of the article in nine sections:

    1. Introduction
    2. Optimism in Fractious Times
    3. Youth Work as a Special Relationship
    4. Power and The Power of Unthinking Consent
    5. Purpose and Context in Youth Work Today
    6. Developing Socially Useful Theory
    7. Critical Youth Work: A Model for Practice
    8. Critical Practice Stems from Critical Practitioners
    9. Conclusion and Take-Away Points

Critical youth-work practice is crucial at a time when the changing policy context presents significant opportunities for looking at and engaging with old problems in new ways. Critical practice accords with emergent directions in social policy which seek to breathe new life into the democratic process. The potential for critical practice is inherent in many aspects of youth work but workers need to be clearer about concepts such as power, purpose, and learning, and forms of social action which connect the personal to the political. Because there can be no critical practice without critical practitioners, workers need a strong theoretical framework to underpin their work. In the end it is a question of 'know-how' where critical purpose is both clear and embodied in the processes of youth work itself.

Bamber, J., & Murphy, H. (1999). Youth work: the possibilities for critical practice. Journal of Youth Studies, 2(2), 227-242. Retrieved from