University of Cambridge > > Darwin College Humanities and Social Sciences Seminars > Youth Work in an Unsettled and Affectively Charged Setting

Youth Work in an Unsettled and Affectively Charged Setting

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Stefanie Ullmann.

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There is an ambivalence central to youth work between caring for young people and being a moral exemplar to them. This tension between care and pedagogy in youth work makes it distinct from other care work, such as caring for the elderly (Aulino 2016). This paper attends to this unique form of caregiving – exploring how youth workers in a charity in rural England cared for vulnerable young people. It examines how masculinity and misogyny manifested and were experienced by youth workers in this setting. Specifically, it examines how masculinity was practised as righteous and intersected with far-right noise at the charity. It then focuses on misogyny as a social and structural phenomenon in this setting. This lays the groundwork for exploring how care was practised by male and female youth workers in a hypermasculine and misogynistic environment. Drawing on the work of Angela Garcia (2015), it explores how verbal confrontation was utilised by male youth workers to care for young men and boys. And how this form of care was profoundly uncaring. Using ethnography, it opens up ethical, anthropological and political questions, including how are young people made worthy of care? And what are the limits to care that is profoundly uncaring?

By attending to the moral ambiguities in caring for vulnerable young people in a youth work context, this paper contributes to existing work by anthropologists that take what we tend to call ‘care’ as their object of study. It argues such research is essential to developing an understanding of adolescence; to know young people, we must know those who care for and teach them.

This talk is part of the Darwin College Humanities and Social Sciences Seminars series.

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