Transforming the Community, Transforming the Self: Young People, Social Action and community Leadership

Michael-Fox, Bethan and Hayden, Nikita (2018). Transforming the Community, Transforming the Self: Young People, Social Action and community Leadership. The Sheffield Student Journal for Sociology(2), article no. 7.

URL: https://sheffieldsociologyjournal.weebly.com/editi...

Abstract

This article is the development of a paper that won the best postgraduate student prize at MeCCSA 2016. This article examines the nexus between community, neoliberalism and young people’s experiences. It interrogates young people’s participation in programmes that seek to engage them in community action and social change by exploring the experiences of young people in a UK leadership programme targeting those from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds. The research consisted of four in-depth semi-structured interviews that were analysed using narrative analysis. Participants’ experiences demonstrate how programmes seeking to engage young people in transforming their communities are often implicitly engaged in seeking to transform the individual. We examine interviewees’ understandings of community and the extent to which they view themselves as agents of change within their communities. We consider how community leadership programmes seek to both facilitate upwardly mobile trajectories and simultaneously contain those trajectories within a geographical area. The research identifies tensions between individual ‘success’ and social action and argues that these tensions are inherent in programmes operating within a context of ingrained neoliberalism. Furthermore, we explore the extent to which participants are aware of these tensions and how they navigate and negotiate them.

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