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Youth Citizenship, Social Change and Non-Governmental Organisations

Diprose, Kristina M (2014) Youth Citizenship, Social Change and Non-Governmental Organisations. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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This thesis is grounded in a 16-month critical ethnography of two voluntary sector youth citizenship projects, based in the UK, which supported young people’s participation in community action and political lobbying. It is about the role of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) as civic intermediaries for young people, in particular about the kinds of citizenship that they foster. The research focuses on thick description of organisational frameworks for youth participation to offer a contextualised account of young people’s citizenship practices, their relationship with social policy and the institutionalised promotion of citizenship ‘best practice’. This account is juxtaposed with popular representations of young people as divorced from mainstream politics, either because they are disenfranchised, or because they are presumed to be reinventing the wheel through subversive sub-cultural practices that portend wider social change. This thesis examines the meanings and practices that voluntary sector staff, volunteers and young people attach to citizen empowerment, supporting the idea that NGOs can be valued and effective civic intermediaries for young people. It also advances an unfixed understanding of youth citizenship through an approach which acknowledges ambiguity in the practice and performance of citizenship for employability and empowerment alongside the promotion of resilience. It argues that youth citizenship cannot be divorced from the pervasive influence of a neoliberal consensus in mainstream UK politics, but also that this relationship supports a continuum of possible outcomes. Katz’s (2004) theory about the relationship between acts of ‘resilience’ and ‘reworking’ with acts of ‘resistance’ is employed as a means to critically interpret NGOs’ and young people’s citizenship practices. Key themes that emerge from this analysis include: the role of NGOs in supporting ‘opportunity’ and ‘process’ aspects of citizenship; how NGOs are implicated in the social reproduction of ‘differential citizenship’ through processes of professionalisation; and the coexistence of ‘active’ and ‘activist’ forms of citizenship.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Youth, Citizenship, NGOs, Empowerment, Ethnography
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Environment (Leeds) > School of Geography (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.655242
Depositing User: Miss K M Diprose
Date Deposited: 07 Jul 2015 13:15
Last Modified: 25 Nov 2015 13:48
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/9247

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