Changing Directions: Young people and effective work against racism

Henri, Tom and Thomas, Paul. 2010. Changing Directions: Young people and effective work against racism. Journal of Youth Studies, 14(1), pp. 77-89. ISSN 1367-6261 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This paper explores approaches to work with young people in the light of the emerging Community Cohesion agenda and the suggestion that this new priority represents the ‘death of multiculturalism’ (Phillips, 2005). Drawing on empirical evidence from Oldham and from the experiences of a project set up to work with the racist views of white children in Leeds, it explores how such work positively disrupts the public realm and challenges the framework of ‘multiculturalism’.

The theoretical basis of the paper is that anti-racist policies and practice have created a moral code which young people can either subscribe to or be punished by (Back, 1996) and that by failing to engage within a framework of inclusion and openness with young people who express racist views, agencies and workers risk alienating them from a positive recasting of those views. In some cases this could enable the process of promoting extremism.

The paper argues that the failure of anti-racist policies as a form of multiculturalism has promoted the alienation of those most in need of intervention regarding racism, and that ‘Community Cohesion’, as actually understood and practiced at ground level, can offer a productive way forward (Thomas, 2007) towards the potential for a ‘critical multiculturalism’(May, 1999). By engaging with strategies that enable young people to explore identities and to talk about racism, youth workers and social workers have the opportunity to re-shape the parameters of ‘Multiculturalist’ practice.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


anti-racism; multiculturalism; attitudes; ethnicity; Community Cohesion

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Social, Therapeutic & Community Engagement (STaCS)


31 August 2010Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

10 Nov 2010 15:36

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 15:50

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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