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‘Do traditional youth work organisations hold the key to sustainability for twenty-first century youth provision? Lessons from The Guide Association.’

GILL, WENDY,VICTORIA (2023) ‘Do traditional youth work organisations hold the key to sustainability for twenty-first century youth provision? Lessons from The Guide Association.’. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Organisational sustainability within the contemporary voluntary youth sector in the UK is a widely debated topic, resulting from the impact of economic austerity policies and the continued decline in youth work. Whilst there is a gap in academic and sector literature, discussion is predominately focused on economic stability connected to neo-liberal values of efficiency, competition, universal quantification, and comparison. Against this backdrop, some youth organisations, such as The Guide Association, have expanded and continue to see growth in demand for their provision. The focus of this research is on the value-based youth work model of The Guide Association (GA) and its ability to evolve, informed by the socio-political context of girls and women. This thesis examines the GA as a potential model for a sustainable twenty-first century youth work organisation. Founded in 1909 to work with girls and young women, it continues today, with a membership of approximately 800,000.
The research is framed within an investigative qualitative paradigm, employing ethnographic methods of participant observation in a Guide Unit, semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders, archival studies of GA records and a small peer- researched participatory action research project.
The research identifies elements of the Guide Association model which engender sustainability and draws out implications for contemporary youth provision. The research findings highlight sustainability within a value-based organisational model of youth work. New theoretical insights are offered on the methodological, dynamic praxis of youth work understood as a set of informed values contained within a neo-liberal framework, the impact on organisations to symbiotically evolve aligned with the socio-political position of young people and the overall loss of youth work and experience from the sector. The thesis concludes it is essential for contemporary youth work to reframe and reclaim itself as a value-based praxis in order to maintain sustainability.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Youth work, values, principles, informal education, sustainability, organisational model, Girl Guides, young women's youth work, participatory action research, participant observation, archival research, semi-structured interviews.
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Applied Social Sciences, School of
Thesis Date:2023
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:27 Mar 2023 10:25

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