Detached Youth Work: A critical analysis of theory and practice

Dowling, Natalie (2020) Detached Youth Work: A critical analysis of theory and practice. PhD thesis, University of Gloucestershire. doi:10.46289/WEDS3597

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This thesis provides a critical analysis of the theory and practice of detached youth work (DYW) as a form of engagement with young people which has lacked attention within policy and research. The research aim was to develop a contemporary definition for DYW in order to create a model of best practice and establish a set of key practitioner skills. The thesis addressed three research objectives, 1: To develop a contemporary definition of DYW using current theory and analysis of practice, 2: To critically analyse current DYW processes to establish a model of best operational practice and 3: To evaluate the work of practitioners in order to establish a set of key practitioner skills for effective DYW. These were achieved through an ethnographic case study approach across two locations, employing three interviews with detached youth workers and 15 participant observations. This was combined with an online survey of 32 detached youth workers exploring their experiences of practice. The thesis illustrates the problems, exacerbated by austerity, in supporting marginalised young people. Responding to the first objective it develops an umbrella term to define DYW, while advising on ideal requirements for this form of practice. For the second objective a model of best operational practice is constructed, emphasising the importance of locations of practice, engagement tools and aspects related to the community and police. The final objective of this thesis contributes a new three-stage process for engagement with new groups of young people through DYW, alongside drawing on data analysis to establish a set of key practitioner skills particularly beneficial in development of job descriptions and recruitment consideration. The thesis concludes that greater understanding of DYW is required to support this form of engagement and allow effective practice to make a difference to individuals at risk. Moreover, in responding to the research aim, it evidences the need for effective relationships and the key skills required for any practitioner engaging with individuals and communities. Without investment in youth services this form of practice is at risk of becoming lost or viewed as ineffective due to inappropriate understandings.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Advisors:
Thesis AdvisorEmailURL
Uncontrolled Keywords: Detached youth work; Theory; Practice; England; Wales
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Business, Computing and Social Sciences
Depositing User: Susan Turner
Date Deposited: 26 Feb 2021 14:21
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2023 08:24

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