Supporters with Vantage Position: The Role of Youth Work in the Online Lifeworld from the Perspective of Adolescents and Youth Work’s Partners

Dejan Todorović, Josje van der Linden, Stijn Sieckelinck, Margaretha Christina Timmerman

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The online environment, where the boundaries between the domains of home, school, work, and leisure are blurred, poses new challenges for youth work practice. Due to limited research on this subject matter, the theoretical underpinnings of the online youth work practice are constrained. The fulfilment of youth work’s aims online, the position it can take in the online context, and its relation to its partners in the online lifeworld need a theoretical base. This paper seeks to analyse the role of youth work in the online lifeworld according to adolescents and youth work’s partners. The research was conducted in the Netherlands in collaboration with 14 youth work organisations. A qualitative research design was used: group conversations with young people and semi-structured interviews with youth work’s partners (i.e., parents, schools, informal networks, neighbourhood support teams, police, and municipal officials). The findings indicate that youth work in the online lifeworld, according to the respondents, is part of the general youth work practice, with a primary role of addressing the developmental needs of young people and creating new developmental opportunities. This role is expected to be fulfilled by engaging and connecting with young people in the online lifeworld and providing them instrumental, informational, socioemotional, and cognitive support. To do so, according to the partners, youth workers can make use of their vantage position in the online relationship with adolescents in order to access online information relevant for support and prudent prevention aimed at adolescents’ development. This vantage position may potentially encourage a collaboration between young people and partners, and between the online and offline youth work practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)427-441
Issue number2
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Mar 2024


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