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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 9: A Critical Border Pedagogy for Praxis


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This chapter begins by considering critical pedagogy as a means of engaging with communities in times of social change. Next, boundary crossing in community practices is discussed to show how this can facilitate learning about difference, which helps make visible historical aspects that persist in maintaining an oppressive status quo. The chapter draws on research examples to show how community and youth work (CYW) practitioners can work across social and cultural borders to enhance understanding of difference. This analysis reveals that emphasis on boundary crossing in border pedagogy can also raise awareness of commonality through the shared experiences of people who are routinely labelled on grounds of, for example, ability, age, gender, race, or sexual orientation. The application and challenges of border pedagogy in CYW are identified as a threshold concept (Land et al., 2005) for sustainable emancipatory praxis in order to challenge the neoliberal project and contribute to the creation of possibilities for an alternative world.

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