Friendship: The ‘Achilles Heel’ of European Youth Work Policy

Ord, Jon and Jeffs, Tony (2023) Friendship: The ‘Achilles Heel’ of European Youth Work Policy. Youth, 3 (4). pp. 1268-1283. ISSN 2673-995X

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This paper analyses the historical development of friendship in youth work in the UK and more recent studies of the impact of youth work in both the UK and in the wider European context to argue that European youth work has failed to acknowledge this important aspect of practice. During youth work’s initial 150 years in the UK three concepts resided at the heart of the enterprise: (a) the ‘club’; (b) ‘membership’ and (c) ‘friendship’. Friendship eclipsed the others for they grew out of the friendships formed between workers and young people, and the young people themselves. Practitioners during this era expected to offer unconditional friendship to members, and to teach them the arts of acquiring and sustaining friendships via the modelling of virtuous behaviour. An exemplar founded upon Aristotle’s concept of friendship. Two recent research programmes highlight the degree to which friendship remains a core element within youth work. These are a comparative study of European youth work provision and a longitudinal study of youth work’s impact Each found the acquisition of and ability to make and retain friends were viewed as key benefits accruing from involvement in youth groups. Both, however, stand in stark contrast to current formulations regarding youth work’s future role in Europe which pay scant attention to the centrality of friendship This article discusses these developments and the important role friendship has and can play within youth work

Item Type: Article
Keywords: friendship, youth work, Europe, policy, history, philosophy
Depositing User: Ms Raisa Burton
Date Deposited: 06 Dec 2023 14:05
Last Modified: 06 Dec 2023 14:05
Related URLs: https://www.mdp ... 673-995X/3/4/80

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