Philospohy in youth and community work
By Mike Seal and Simon Frost

Not yet published. Due January 2014.

'We should be tolerant of others.'
'I work in a democratic way.'
'Young people respect me.'
'It's all about getting them to trust you.'
'I just talk to young people.'
'We should treat everyone as an individual.'

These are things that, as youth workers, we all say. And we all think we know what we mean. But do we agree with each other?

And what does each of us understand by terms such as democracy, tolerance, fairness, trust, respect, conversation, self, society, individualism, collectivism, community and autonomy?

Does it matter? It is the conversations (words) we have and the meanings (ideas) that we help young people create in their lives that define us. But, if we are not precise in our arguments, and analytical and questioning about the assumptions behind our ideas, including the very language we use, we stumble along, imprecisely grasping at ideas, communicating at cross-purposes.

To help youth workers further develop their skills in helping young people, this book shows - in measured, careful language - how we can identify and explore the assumptions behind our work.

Because youth and community work is primarily concerned with people, it raises questions about the values we should hold in relating to each other, the nature of these relationships, and what it is to be a person in society. In ways that are complementary to publications by Young, Banks and Roberts, it:
  • looks at the fundamental concerns of youth and community work
  • helps workers at all levels – and young people – dig deeper and ask questions about who creates knowledge that is offered to them.

  • The book's two main authors bring very different philosophical and political perspectives, and they often did not agree when pulling together the ideas for the book. Pete Harris, who contributed to the chapter on conversation, has a different perspective again. But they do agree that knowledge is a dynamic thing, and without these differences it cannot enrich youth work’s practice and theory.

    They seek to help youth workers at all levels by encouraging and exploring a diversity of philosophical outlook. While in the concluding chapter they bring various outlooks together to help us understand the tensions that do arise in our work, as well as the coherence amongst them.

    Paperback. About 152 pages. 978-1-905541-90-4. Due January 2014. £16.95.


  • Youth and community workers
  • Youth work and community work students, lecturers and their libraries
  • Anyone in the social care sector.


    It's more than just common sense... the relevance of philosophy to everyday youth and community work Mike Seal
    'Youth work is just common sense, you just have to trust your instincts' Mike Seal
    'We should all learn to accept each other' Simon Frost
    'I work in a democratic way' Simon Frost
    'It's not fair…' Simon Frost
    'Young people need to respect themselves and others' Mike Seal
    'I like to think young people can trust me' Mike Seal
    'It's all about the conversation' Mike Seal and Pete Harris
    'I treat everyone as an individual' Mike Seal
    'You can’t tell me what to do. It's my right!' Autonomy, free will and coercion Simon Frost
    Philosophies of youth work: post-modern chameleons or cherry-picking charlatans Mike Seal