We use cookies to improve your website experience. To learn about our use of cookies and how you can manage your cookie settings, please see our Cookie Policy. By closing this message, you are consenting to our use of cookies.

Submit a Manuscript to the Journal
Ethics and Social Welfare

For a Special Issue on
Ethics of Youth Work Practice in the Twenty-first Century: Change, Challenge and Opportunity

Abstract deadline
09 January 2023

Manuscript deadline
30 June 2023

Cover image - Ethics and Social Welfare

Special Issue Editor(s)

Catherine Forde, University College Cork
[email protected]

Sinead McMahon, Maynooth University

Gunjan Wadhwa, University of Sussex

Submit an ArticleVisit JournalArticles

Ethics of Youth Work Practice in the Twenty-first Century: Change, Challenge and Opportunity

This special issue of Ethics and Social Welfare will focus on the ethical dimensions of youth work practice. Ethics is concerned with ideas of right and wrong in all areas of the human experience, and with ethical standards in human behaviour and institutions (Velasquez et al., 2010). Ethics is important in all disciplines but particularly in youth work which works with and for children and young people. While several social professions engage in work with young people, this call for papers focuses specifically on youth work. Youth work is defined here as informal or non-formal education with a focus on the personal, cultural, social or political development of young people in a range of settings and characterised by core values including voluntary participation, partnership and the active inclusion of young people in decision making, empowerment and the promotion of rights. There are many dimensions to the consideration of ethics in youth work, however some of these areas have not been examined in depth while others have more recently emerged.

This call for papers comes at a time when youth work as a profession, practice and philosophy faces changes and challenges. Neoliberal policy shifts have changed the face of much youth work practice, impacting youth work activities and education, youth work funding and the ways in which children and young people are framed. In policy discourse, youth work itself has come to be framed predominantly in economic terms with significant silencing of its values base. Youth work has professionalised in many countries, and in response professional and occupational groups have produced professional standards and codes of ethics for youth work practice. In other places, youth work is an emerging practice and profession with the associated considerations of establishment and recognition. Other significant developments include the challenges and opportunities afforded by the movement towards greater recognition of children and young people’s agency, participation and inclusion, inspired by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and governmental action on children’s rights and inclusion in countries across the globe. This call also coincides with the impact of Covid-19 which has underlined and drawn attention to but often exacerbated issues of inequality affecting many children and young people, including poverty, exclusion, exploitation and vulnerability. These developments and issues demonstrate the need for the recognition, support and solidarity which effective youth work can provide. Ethical considerations and dilemmas accompany these developments and it is useful to consider how ethics may be regarded as both a burden but also a form of resistance.

The following are some prompts to guide potential contributions to this special issue but please note proposals are not limited to these and indeed these themes may overlap:

1. Theoretical perspectives – consideration of the potential of ethics theory/theories to be applied to youth work; comparison of theoretical positions in ethics and implications for youth work; evaluation of newer theoretical positions in ethics such as poststructural, postcolonial, feminist perspectives and eco-youth work.
2. Practitioner perspectives – exploration of a range of everyday ethical dilemmas and issues encountered in youth work practice such as: issues of consent; positionality; the ethics surrounding the youth work ‘contract’ between youth workers and young people; issues of trust and accountability; targeted work; the use of language/discourse in youth work and the implications for the framing of youth workers and/or young people in numerical or deficit terms, for example; the impact of moral distress on youth workers; implications of the increasing use of market-based tools and devices in youth work; exploration of the ethics of resistance.
3. Young people’s perspectives – consideration of the ethics associated with working with young people in a youth work context, particularly young people experiencing inequalities including, but not limited to: indigenous, ethnic or religious minoritized youth; LGBTQI identities; gender and citizenship; young women/young men; young people experiencing poverty, social class inequality, educational stratification and exclusion, violence and conflict; young people with disability; young people who are migrants, refugees or asylum seekers.
4. Policy perspectives – explorations of the intersection of youth work policy and ethics; the relationship between politics and ethics in youth work practice: for example, the increasing tendency to conflate youth work with the more generic ‘working with children and young people’; explorations of colonial and capitalist histories and impacts on youth work; the impact of state-sponsored youth work on youth work values and practice; the silencing of youth work values in policy discourse.
5. Professionalisation perspectives – exploration of the relationship between professionalisation agendas in youth work and ethics; the production and promotion of ethical codes; a critical assessment of codes of ethics in youth work practice at organisational, national and international context: for example, in the production of codes of ethics who decides what is right or 'good' in a youth work context and what role does youth participation and agency play (or not) in this?
6. Management perspectives – consideration of this under-explored area which addresses the ethical responsibilities of youth work managers and services providers; what are the ethical challenges and dilemmas facing managers, boards of management, volunteers and youth work organisations?

Contributions can be articles of 5,000-7,000 words, or shorter case studies of an ethical challenge in a practice situation (1,500-3,000 words).
We particularly encourage contributions based on collaborative working between youth work academics and practitioners. The co-editors would be happy to discuss these proposed contributions with the authors prior to the preparation of their papers.

Submission Instructions


Potential contributors should send an abstract of up to 500 words with a title and an outline of the rationale, scope and content of the article/case study to Catherine Forde at [email protected] by 9th January 2022.

The name of the author(s) should be supplied, including full contact details. Abstracts will be reviewed by the Special Issue editors, and potential contributors notified by 31st January 2023.

Full articles/case studies

Shortlisted authors will be invited to submit their first full version by 30th June 2023, with final versions to be completed by 30th November 2023.
The journal’s style guidelines can be found here, however please note that this journal accepts format-free submissions:

If your abstract is shortlisted, this does not guarantee publication of the article in the special issue. Full submissions will be refereed in the usual way, which means some may not be accepted and some may require revisions. We will endeavour to place all accepted articles in the special issue, but if this is full, then some articles may be placed in another issue of the journal.

It is anticipated that the special issue articles will be published online from December 2023, with the full special issue published in print format available as Issue 1 in March 2024.

Instructions for AuthorsSubmit an Article

We use cookies to improve your website experience. To learn about our use of cookies and how you can manage your cookie settings, please see our Cookie Policy. By closing this message, you are consenting to our use of cookies.