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"Youth Workers - Agents of social change or agents of social control?"

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Introduction

"Youth Workers - Agents of social change or agents of social control?" Are youth workers agents of social change or agents of social control? That is the question that I am hoping to answer in this piece. Here you will see an introduction and brief explanation of both social change and social control. I will be using quotes and information from various books and theorists. I hope to give you a brief history and definition of what youth work is. From reading the information on social change and social control, as well as what is said about youth work, I hope that you have a clear understanding of each. I will be arguing my points based on the three key policy reports. The Albemarle Report, the Milson-Fairbairn Report, and the Thompson Report. I will be making specific references to each report and arguing whether each report feels that youth workers are agents of social change or agents of social control. Finally I will be making my own conscious decision on whether I think that youth workers are agents of social change or agents of social control and I will be referring to the three reports to back up my decision. The debate about whether youth workers are agents of social change or social control is a very complex one. But first, what is social change and social control? Social control is the processes of informal social control and formal social control of deviant behaviour which falls beyond the bounds set by social norms. ...read more.

Middle

The very fact that the youth were described as upsetting the natural 'order' of things was very clear in that Albemarle wanted the youth workers to be agents of social control. The raw foundation for youth work was introduced in the Albemarle Report. The four principle recommendations really got the ball rolling. However, one of these recommendations states that the Minister of Education should take the steps to increase the exiting force of full time leaders. What this is saying is that youth workers should lead my force and not through understanding, empathy trust etc. This is summed up by the way that an army graduate was straight away qualified as a youth leader. That whole idea boils down to one simple aspect, discipline. If a young person is disciplined then it will fulfil the role that society expects from them. The argument above states that the Albemarle Report quite obviously veers towards youth workers being agents of social control, however, it recognises that a change is needed. A contrasting view comes from the Milson-Fairbairn Report. This report was sceptical of the extent to which community schools could represent the full range of community interests. The aim of the report reads, " It is the critical involvement of young people in a society which seeks to be compassionate and participant." (Lecture Pack). The report acknowledges that there have been significant changes since the Albemarle Report and there are still debates concerning many issues. ...read more.

Conclusion

His report is central to participation and citizenship. The participation coming from both the young people and the youth workers. After looking extensively at the three reports I don't believe that youth workers can be either 'just' agents of social control or 'just' agents of social change. I feel that at the beginning of youth work, yes, there was an added emphasis on youth workers being agents of social control, however, as time has progressed and the youth have grown and different generations have come through I feel that we have passed the stage of youth workers being agents of one or the other. There is an element of youth workers being agents of both. My argument for this is that there will always be expectations from society and there will always be a structure, however hidden it may be, but there is also the need to always try and meet the needs and expectations of the young people. It has been this diversity that has helped the youth service grow and become as big as it now is. The emphasis now is to try to help the young people to participate and have a more active role in society while acknowledging that there are expectations and rules and discipline to be followed. Finally, I feel that overall youth workers should be agents of social control AND agents of social change. This is to help the youth workers be as effective as possible and to facilitate the young people to the greatest of their ability. ...read more.

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