The relational spaces of mentoring with young people 'at risk'

Fiona M. Smith, Matej Blazek, Donna Marie Brown, Lorraine van Blerk

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    In this chapter we examine the relational spaces of emotional work in a mentoring project which deployed volunteer mentors (‘active citizens’) to complement formal structures of state engagement with vulnerable young people deemed ‘at risk’ of anti-social and criminal behaviour. In so doing, we explore the complexities of the kind of emotional work involved in policy-in-practice, particularly in policy interventions which might at a general level be critiqued as representing individualising neoliberal modes of governance which ‘responsibilise’, or even stigmatise, individuals (Bowlby et al., 2014; Pykett, 2014). Critics argue that such policies target attention on the need to discipline what are viewed as problematic emotions and related behaviours (a particular characteristic of many policy interventions with young people, Kraftl and Blazek, 2015), while failing to address wider structural inequalities. However, by looking more closely at how emotions are embedded in wider relational practices of care, we examine how those who participated both valued the emotional labour involved and insisted on the need to address some of the limitations of such models of practice. This in turn engages with wider discussions (Newman, Chapter 2, this volume; Laurie and Bondi, 2005) on exploring the risks and opportunities of the apparent co-option of emotional work into the emotional, neoliberal state by refusing any simple application of the somewhat totalising logics of neoliberalism. It instead demonstrates how other rationales and modes of practice may insist on the potential for other forms of emotional practice to emerge. This includes the recognition both of young people’s own embodied emotional agencies and of the need for supportive structures and relations of care alongside approaches which insist on the need to address wider aspects of inequality and exclusion.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationEmotional States
    Subtitle of host publicationSites and Spaces of Affective Governance
    EditorsEleanor Jupp, Jessica Pykett, Fiona Smith
    Place of PublicationLondon
    Number of pages15
    ISBN (Electronic)9781315579252
    ISBN (Print)9781472454058 (hbk), 9781138624160 (pbk)
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


    • emotional geographies
    • relational
    • mentoring
    • Volunteering

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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