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    Governing Youth Work Through Problems: A WPR Analysis of the ‘Value for Money and Policy Review of Youth Programmes’

    McMahon, Sinead (2018) Governing Youth Work Through Problems: A WPR Analysis of the ‘Value for Money and Policy Review of Youth Programmes’. PhD thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.

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    A central premise of this study is that Irish youth work is increasingly governed and re-formed through problems constituted in Government policy discourse. The purpose of the study is to critically analyse contemporary youth work policy in a context of neoliberal reform. The research specifically focused on analysing data from one particular policy text – the Value for Money and Policy Review of Youth Programmes (VFMPR) (DCYA, 2014). This text was chosen because of its intense interest in the conduct of youth work, which included an ‘examination’ of youth work practice in 13 sample sites across Ireland. This study sought to understand how the VFMPR policy attempts to govern the future conduct and shape of youth work and to analyse how this might have damaging effects for the ideals and practices of open and open-ended youth work. The study draws on poststructural and governmentality perspectives to conceptualise policy as a governing technology that works through constructing problems and opening certain solutions. Policy as a governing technology also works by disseminating governing through its discourse which has both symbolic and material effects. Using governmentality theory, neoliberalism is conceptualised as a dominant rationality in contemporary modes of governing and the influence of this rationality is examined in the work of the VFMPR policy discourse. Specifically, the study engaged the analytical framework called ‘What’s the Problem Represented to be?’ (WPR) (Bacchi, 2009). This framework supports a form of poststructural policy analysis that questions policy and the role it plays in ordering society (Bacchi and Goodwin, 2016). The findings of the study suggest that the VFMPR policy attempts to produce youth work as a site of neoliberal governmentality through the production of various problem representations of youth work. The work of this policy displays attempts to discursively shift youth work as a ‘human service’, out of an older social domain and into a newer economic and market domain. This study contributes to a critical analysis of Irish youth work policy and the increasing attempts at producing youth work as a site for neoliberal governmentality. It offers youth work practitioners and advocates an analysis of the role of policy in re-forming practice at the current time.

    Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
    Keywords: Governing Youth Work; Problems; WPR Analysis; Value for Money; Policy Review; Youth Programmes;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Applied Social Studies
    Item ID: 10857
    Depositing User: IR eTheses
    Date Deposited: 10 Jun 2019 09:33
      Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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