ABSTRACT

This is more than simply a book about management; it is a book which asks critical questions about both what management is, and should be, in youth work. It begins with a thought-provoking reflection upon the historical development of management by Bernard Davies in Chapter 1, demonstrating that the current ‘phenomenon’ of management is a relatively new concept in the history of youth work, and that management was historically associated with the role of ‘advisor’ – someone who supported, guided and influenced practice but didn’t control it. Importantly, the growth in management coincided with the increased attention paid to youth work by government. However, whilst the current form of management in the public sector, (broadly described as new public management or more pejoratively as ‘managerialism’1) arrived with Thatcherism, it was not until New Labour paid particular close attention to youth work that managerialism began to bite. This close association between management and policy is perhaps best evidenced in the construction of leadership in youth work. Sue Lea in Chapter 5 makes the case that leadership is almost entirely associated with mobilization of the workforce to deliver an external framework of policy directives, resulting in leaders becoming mere conduits for policymakers. This book questions the ‘taken for granted’ notion of management, arguing that

rather than ‘value free’, management is necessarily ‘value laden’. The current form of management presents itself as value neutral, with its emphasis upon the apparently objective striving for greater efficiency and effectiveness. However, the values which underpin this form of management in youth work, it is argued, are fundamentally neoliberal, with an emphasis on the private over public sector and the pre-eminence of the market. This is explored in some depth in Chapter 2, which charts the shift from welfarism, associated with social democracy, to post welfarism, which is underpinned by neoliberalism. It makes comparisons between New Labour and Thatcher’s more strident neoliberalism, and whilst it is acknowledged there are elements of the social democratic tradition within New Labour, ultimately it is the neoliberal which dominates. The last chapter of the first section of the book, which characterizes the ‘context of youth work management’, looks at the competing ‘theories’ underpinning management. Initially it looks at the relative merits of mainstream or modernist management, before introducing post-modern management, and exploring the dominant discourse of management, which creates a straitjacket of technical rationalism underpinned by the discipline of auditing and accountability. The second part of the book, entitled ‘Critical issues in the practice of youth work

management’, assesses the impact of new public management or managerialism on the management of youth work. It begins by introducing labour process theory, which

argues that dissent is a consequence of disempowerment, and structural inequality, and therefore is not something which should be managed out, but contains legitimate concerns which should be incorporated into the managerial process. It then goes on to argue, with reference to literature from critical management studies, that disparate voices are too often silenced by current management practices, and they to need to be incorporated. The question of what are the appropriate structures and cultures for youth work management is then asked, concluding that if youth work is to be consistent with its own values, it must make a commitment to democracy, at the heart of its managerial processes. Chapters 6 and 7 in this part focus on planning and evaluation; both chapters criti-

cize the emphasis on objective and quantifiable measures in youth work, arguing that in relation to planning, it is not only untenable but counter-productive to try to tie youth workers’ planning to specific outcomes prior to the engagement of youth people and the development of a process of youth work. In relation to evaluation, Sue Cooper argues that the concept of quality is essentially subjective and as a result participative approaches must be re-emphasized, which gives voice to practitioners and young people. This section continues with an analysis of the impact of managerialism on centre-based youth work management, looking at the involvement of young people, the impact of targets and programming, and health and safety. It argues that not only are youth centre managers spending increasingly less time delivering face-to-face work, but the community context has been eroded. Graeme Tiffany’s final chapter in this section offers a critique of detached youth work management, arguing that it needs to be ‘intelligence based’, i.e. involve a bottom-up process grounded in information elicited from contact with young people, rather than a top-down imposition of a set of outcomes designated for young people independent of any genuine needs analysis. The final part of the book looks at three important settings of youth work manage-

ment, namely integrated services, the faith-based sector, and the voluntary sector. Merton and Davies’ chapter draws together key lessons from their recent research into the impact of integrated services on youth work management. Their tentative conclusions suggest a disparity between practitioners’ sceptical views of the success of integrated services and those of managers which appeared more positive; as well as increased uncertainty and complexity. Simon Davies’ faith-based chapter focuses on management in Christian youth work. This offers a different set of challenges, not least because managerialism has had very little, if any, impact. Faith-based youth work management is more reminiscent of the era of ‘youth advisor’. The creation of vocationally driven ‘lone rangers’ is perhaps an issue which needs to be addressed, but it does offer up a mirror to challenge the managerialist practices of secular youth work management. The final chapter of the book is an important assessment of the impact of manage-

rialism on the voluntary sector, as well as an analysis of the possibilities of the ‘Big Society’. It charts the changing face of the voluntary sector with the impact of the new accountability – how funding patterns have shifted, the effect of the contract culture, and how the locus of control has shifted from local communities to the state. It also assesses the sustainability of the voluntary sector due to the increase in short termism, and competition between providers. It concludes that in theory at least the Big Society embraces a vibrant voluntary sector, but in reality unless sufficient support is given to the sector it is hard to see it as anything more than a smokescreen for an ideological assault on welfarism.