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Building social and cultural capital through learning about equality in youth work

Coburn, Annette (2011) Building social and cultural capital through learning about equality in youth work. Journal of Youth Studies, 14 (4). pp. 475-491. ISSN 1367-6261

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The changing lives of young people provided the context for the Scottish Government to publish, ‘Moving Forward – a strategy for improving young people's chances through Youth Work’. This strategy reported young peoples' aspirations to be treated equally and to know their opinions count. Contemporary theories on youth work suggested that equality was at its heart, yet little had been done to examine equality within generic youth work settings, although there was information on targeted interventions, such as youth work with Muslim young women or young black men. This article draws on a study that examined what young people learned about equality in a generic youth work setting. Theories of critical pedagogy provided a framework through which to explore how problem-posing youth work enabled young people to articulate voice and influence decisions. Youth work is argued as border pedagogy and proposed as enhancing the egalitarian nature of practices that enabled young people to interrogate their beliefs, values and identities and to act in ways that supported the development of cultural and social capitals.