Youth work is a polyvalent and multi-faceted practice. It takes place in a wide range of settings, varies from unstructured activities to fairly structured programmes, reaches a diverse array of young people, touches upon many different themes and cuts across several other disciplines and practices. This versatility is one of the strengths of youth work, but at the same time it may lead to fragmentation and product vagueness.
In this book, we take a historical perspective that aims to identify the close links between youth work developments and broader social, cultural and political developments. What are the beliefs and concepts that underpin youth work? How do they relate to the recurrent youth work paradox, that youth work produces active and democratic citizens but at the same time seems ineffective for young people who are excluded from active citizenship? Tracing back the roots of youth work and identifying different evolutions within and between countries help to initiate a fundamental discussion on modern-day youth work identity and to cope in a constructive way with the recurrent paradoxes of youth work.
The different authors highlight the youth work policies in Belgium (Flanders), Germany, England, Poland, Malta, France and Finland.