Are you for real? Investigating authenticity in community-based youth work practice

Ian Fyfe (Lead / Corresponding author), Alan Mackie

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Community-based youth workers are tasked increasingly to balance delivery of key policy priorities, whilst supporting young people to manage issues in their day-to-day lives. Contemporary practice is often marked by an increasing emphasis on delivery and measurement of predetermined outcomes and targeted provision. Practitioner boundaries have become unclear, challenging the nature of their relationships with young people. The interaction between youth workers and young people is characterised by levels of trust, respect, sincerity and above all authenticity. The notion of authenticity has been utilised to study teaching practice in schools and universities. We extend this work to examine the identity, role and purpose of youth work. The discussion draws on data from interviews with practitioners focused on the impact of their response to the issues faced by young people. Importantly, the findings point to authenticity as a new and valuable dimension or analysis and development of youth work practice.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Youth Studies
Early online date21 Jul 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Jul 2022


  • authenticity
  • critical reflection
  • performativity
  • relationships
  • Youth work

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Social Sciences
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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