Building capital through learning about equality in youth work

Annette Coburn

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


The changing lives of young people provided the context for the Scottish Government to publish a national strategy for youth work, which reported young peoples' aspirations to be treated equally and to know their opinions count. This article draws on research about the nature and purpose of youth work during this period of change and contributes to the debate that positions youth work as a catalyst for addressing the inequalities that young people experience. The study was undertaken in a purpose-built youth facility opened in 1970. Over 3 years, the project was visited 42 times, during which 24 interviews and 49 periods of observation were made. Using the findings of this research, the article proposes that youth work may be positioned as border pedagogy that offers opportunities for creation of a new knowledge through collaborations between young people and youth workers. The findings illustrate how youth work enabled young people to build social and cultural capital that enhanced their knowledge and understanding of the world and strengthened their social networks. It proposes youth work as a site of capital building, where cultural and social awareness is heightened, and young people are at the centre of processes that enhance their sense of well-being in terms of who they are or may become.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 26 Nov 2009
EventSERA conference - Perth, Scotland
Duration: 27 Nov 200929 Nov 2009


ConferenceSERA conference
CityPerth, Scotland


  • young people
  • social networks
  • social worker-service user relationship

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