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Accountability, bureaucratic literacies and conflictual cooperation in community-based organisations for young people in Québec

Theriault, Virginie (2017) Accountability, bureaucratic literacies and conflictual cooperation in community-based organisations for young people in Québec. In: European Conference on Educational Research Conference 2017, 2017-08-21 - 2017-08-25.

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Since the beginning of the 1990s, the Canadian and Québec Governments have increased their involvement with community-based organisations partly because of their potential economic benefits for society. These organisations received more recognition but were also increasingly seen as the State’s service providers (Savard & Proulx, 2012). As in other countries, this led to the rise of an accountability regime that focuses on standardisation and monitoring systems (Ade-Ojo & Duckworth, 2015). These changes have been affected by the OECD’s surveys including IALS, ALL and PIAAC that put countries in competition with one another (Hamilton, 2014; Tett, 2014). The aim of this paper is to understand how a group of youth workers in Québec managed to resist this accountability regime and its bureaucratic literacies (reports, forms, statistics, etc.). The paper adopts a New Literacy Studies perspective; literacies are considered as social practices rather than technical skills (Barton & Hamilton, 1998). It draws on an ethnographic and participatory study conducted in two community-based organisations for young people aged 16 to 30 who were experiencing precarity (Thériault, 2015). For the purpose of this paper, a content analysis was performed on the following data: transcripts of 7 interviews and three focus groups with 8 youth workers, and observation notes.The findings confirm what Duval and her colleagues (2005: 23) describe as the paradoxical position of ‘conflictual cooperation’; the two organisations were receiving funding from the State, but also adopted a critical stance towards it in order to defend and advocate for the young people attending their activities. Also, the youth workers adapted certain bureaucratic literacies and reused them in creative and meaningful ways. For instance, the young people were involved during the organisations’ Annual General Meetings; putting words and faces on the data presented in the accountability reports required by the State.