This thesis focuses on the contribution of professional youth work to the personal development and social participation of socially vulnerable young people in Western welfare states. The increasing focus on positive youth development and prevention within the fields of social and pedagogical science and youth policy (Catalano et al., 2004; Ince et al., 2018) has heightened the urgency of identifying how professional youth work contributes to positive development in socially vulnerable young people. This is particularly the case for youth systems in which waiting lists for care services are growing and pressure on the youth-care sector is increasing (Hilderink et al., 2020). Although professional youth work is often regarded as having a positive impact on the development of young people, the literature has yet to provide any well-developed body of evidence to substantiate the effects of this methodical process on positive development of young people (Hill, 2020; McGregor, 2015; Mundy-McPherson et al., 2012). This thesis disentangles a multi-methodic youth work approach in order to investigate whether and how it contributes to the personal development and social participation of socially vulnerable young people.
This first chapter begins with a short overview of the two key concepts of the thesis: socially vulnerable young people and professional youth work. We then provide a brief overview of the increased theoretical focus on positive youth development and the related revival of attention to prevention in youth policy and youth-care services. We further discuss substantive arguments underlying arguments for the importance of strengthening the body of knowledge on professional youth work. The chapter ends by providing the aims, research questions and the outline of the thesis.
Sonneveld, J. J. J. (2022). Growth opportunities in professional youth work. contribution of a multi-methodic approach on the personal development and social participation of socially vulnerable youngsters. Tilburg University.