With the proposed development of the ‘youth professional’ and the consolidation of graduate professional qualifications, this is an important time for youth work. This book sets out the current state of debate about youth work for those considering, or about to embark on, a degree course. Contemporary debates in youth work are explored, and help to give students a sense of its history and its future contribution. By combining the experience of its editors and the contemporaneous experience of the voices of contributors, this book provides an excellent introduction to work as a youth worker in the twenty-first century.


Wendy Podd

Chapter Objectives

The objectives of this chapter are to:

  • explore the concept and skills of ‘participation’ in the context of contemporary youth work practice;
  • consider critically the role of youth councils/parliament as models of enfranchisement or empowerment;
  • investigate the challenge of issues of marginalisation and under-representation in the practice of participation.


This chapter explores the notion of ‘participation’ within historical, social and political contexts. It examines concepts associated with participatory practice including ‘power’ and ‘empowerment’, enquiring how participation involves developing opportunities for young people.

The chapter draws on research into ways in which local authorities in the north-east of England have aimed at delivering the government's ‘youth participation’ agenda. The research set out to examine local authority mechanisms designed for young people to participate in policy decisions and ...

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