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Past event

Thinking critically about impact, evaluation and accountability in youth work

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Online event – pre-registration essential

A market-oriented rationality underpins the growing emphasis on outcomes, impact measurement and ‘value for money’ in youth services (de St Croix, McGimpsey and Owens, 2019). This webinar brings together four studies from scholars in the UK, Ireland and USA, employing theoretical, discourse analytical and empirical resources to discuss how evaluation and impact measurement act as and through policy to reconfigure youth work practice.

The central themes of the webinar will be introduced by a paper from Tania de St Croix (Kings College London) exploring the neoliberal policy discourse of youth impact, circulated by influential actors in transnational networks. This will be followed by papers on:

  • ‘Value for Money’ (Sinead McMahon, Limerick Institute of Technology) setting out reforms of youth work in Ireland through economic evaluation that narrowed the value of youth to quantified unit cost calculations
  • Race and the Politics of Community-based Youth Work (Bianca Baldridge, University of Madison Wisconsin) explores the use of standardized measures of success in afterschool programmes that support Black youth in the USA. The paper argues these measures undermine efforts to expose youth of colour to identity work and critical reflection on the worlds they navigate.
  • The everyday and the remarkable (Louise Doherty, Kings College London) argues accountability mechanisms fail to promote the impact emerging from ‘everyday’ youth work practice
  • Messy play in clean numbers (Deirdre Duffy, Manchester Metropolitan University) explores possibilities for reclaiming evaluation by using theories of critical numeracy to subvert, play with, and make numbers messy.

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Sinead McMahon, Dr

Lecturer at Limerick Institute of Technology

Sinead is a lecturer in Limerick Institute of Technology where she teaches Social Policy. Having qualified as a Youth Worker she continues to be involved in a variety of youth work spaces and is currently a member of the Tipperary ETB Youth Work...

Bianca J. Baldridge

Associate Professor at University of Wisconsin Madison

Bianca J. Baldridge is an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Policy Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. As a sociologist of education, Bianca’s scholarship explores the socio-political context of community-based...

Deirdre Duffy, Dr

Manchester Metropolitan

Dr Deirdre Niamh Duffy is a Reader in Critical Social Policy at Manchester Metropolitan University. She specialises in feminist theory, political organising, and evaluation research. Her monograph Evaluation and Governing in the 21st Century:...

Louise Doherty

Research Associate at Kings College London

Louise has an extensive background in the youth and community work sector as a youth work practitioner, artist educator and project/team manager. In parallel to that she has been teaching on an MA programme at Goldsmiths University for several years.

Tania de St Croix, Dr

Lecturer at Kings College London

Tania de St Croix is a Lecturer at King’s College. She is currently engaged in research with Louise Doherty on the experiences of young people, practitioners and policy influencers in relation to youth impact and accountability mechanisms (ESRC...


Ian McGimpsey, Dr

Lecturer in Education at University of Birmingham

Ian joined the University of Birmingham School of Education as a lecturer in 2013, immediately following the completion of his ESRC funded doctoral research at the Institute of Education, London. His undergraduate study was in youth and community...

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