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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 LIT

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

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

Reader at Manchester Metropolitan University

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:...

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Louise Doherty, Ms

Research Associate at Kings College London

Louise is a lecturer on a JNC validated youth and community work MA at Goldsmiths and has over twenty years experience in the youth and community work sector as a youth work practitioner, artist educator and project manager. Louise has been...

Tania de St Croix, Dr

Lecturer in the Sociology of Youth and Childhood at King's College London

Tania is currently researching the experiences of young people, practitioners and policy influencers in relation to youth impact and accountability mechanisms in youth work, with Louise Doherty. Her previous research investigated the perceptions...


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Ian McGimpsey, Dr

Associate Professor of Education at University of Birmingham

Ian McGimpsey is Associate Professor of Education in the Department of Education and Social Justice at the University of Birmingham. His work is concerned with inequality and social justice, and has a conceptual focus on assemblage and the...

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