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Communities for Social Change

Practicing Equality and Social Justice in Youth and Community Work


Annette Coburn and Sinéad Gormally

Communities for Social Change: Practicing Equality and Social Justice in Youth and Community Work examines core ideas of social justice and equality that underpin community and youth work. It informs understanding of a range of community concepts and practices that are used to identify practical skills and characteristics that can help to promote equality by challenging injustice. Working with people in different types of community can bring the kind of social change that makes a real and lasting difference. Although justice is a contested notion, Annette Coburn and Sinéad Gormally assert that it is closely interlinked with human rights and equality. A critical examination of contemporary literature draws on educational, sociological, and psychological perspectives, to set community practices within a context for learning that is conversational, critical and informal. Social justice is about identifying and seeking to address structural disadvantage, discrimination, and inequality. The authors assert that by refocusing on process, participation, and collective rights, it is possible to create and sustain social justice. Transformative research paradigms help to produce findings that inspire and underpin political social action, and an analysis of practice-based examples supports the promotion of increased critical consciousness. This makes Communities for Social Change a must-read for anyone studying or teaching community youth work or who is working in communities or with individuals who experience oppression or inequality. If you are committed to teaching and learning about theory and practice that promotes social change for equality and social justice, you will not be disappointed!

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Chapter 2: Striving for Unifying Principles and Values


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This chapter is driven by our wider concerns that community and youth work (CYW) practice is increasingly focussed on what and how we do things, as distinct from articulating and enacting the underpinning principles and values that drive an emancipatory practice for social justice and the eradication of inequality (Coburn and Gormally, 2015). We are puzzled by what we have termed the ‘hidden knowns’ of youth and community practices (Coburn and Gormally, 2014). As a work in progress, we are interested in a range of ‘hidden knowns’ that practitioners know are important in practice but which are rarely evaluated and discussed to the same depth or level of detail as more routine practice methodologies. Yet, we believe these ‘hidden knowns’ are core elements of educational CYW practice that make a definitional contribution to minimise any confusion in comparison with professions such as social work or school teaching.

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