Confronting Segregation: Lessons from Developmental Community Youth Work Practice in Conflict Societies

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The world is becoming progressively more interdependent and at the same time increasingly economically and socially divided. One consequence of the pervasive nature of global forces and their ‘unequal’ effects is a heightened sense of dissatisfaction and insecurity; the results of which are often generated at the level of the community and individual. The ensuing ‘feeling’ of uncertainty tends to be further intensified in communities either in or emerging from prolonged violent conflict.

In nation-states that are deemed not to be in ‘conflict’, internal ‘struggle’ and social division also occur as a consequence of the rapid changes experienced at macro and micro levels. Increasingly countries such as the UK, Germany and France have been experiencing heightened societal and communal segregation resulting in ‘spiralling’ violence against the ‘other’. Consequent actions and/or reactions within both conflict and non-conflict civil societies are, at once, political and communal and between those who wish to embrace, and those who wish to resist, the opportunity for diversity, inclusion and democratization. Often in these situations it is young people who find themselves as the primary ‘victims’ caught in the ‘transitions’ between the past, the present and the possibilities of the future. Within these situations there remains an opportunity to develop a sense of social involvement and empowerment. It is in such contexts where developmental community youth work engages for the ‘hearts and mind’ of young people. Drawing on initiatives and experiences of working with young people in conflict and post conflict environments, this paper examines some of the positive models of practice in relation to community youth development towards promoting social cohesion and integration. As part of on-going empirical research, the paper also explores aspects of such work that may be ‘transferable’ to young people and communal segregation in those so called ‘non-conflict’ societies.


Keywords: Community Conflict, Conflict and Non-conflict Environments, Segregation, Community Youth Development
Stream: Sociology, Geography
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Confronting Segregation


Dr. Alan Grattan

Lecturer, Faculty of Law
Arts and Social Sciences, University of Southampton

Southampton, Hampshire, UK

My main research interests include young people and political participation as well as 'communities in conflict' and the processes of post conflict reconstruction and reconciliation. Additionally, I am interested in the role of 'emotions' in the realm of conflict and within acts of communal and political violence. I was a member of the 'Youth Work in Contested Spaces' Project which was a joint project with the University of Ulster, Youth Council for Northern Ireland and Public Achievement. This was a three year partnership project involving academics, policy makers and practitioners. The project involved researching and sharing ideas on working with young people in conflict and post conflict environments. This project has taken my research to South Africa, Israel and Palestine, Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia as well as Northern Ireland. Previously I was a Junior Research Fellow at the Instiute of Irish Studies at the Queen's University of Belfast as well as teaching Sociology and Irish Studies at St. Mary's University College, Twickenham, UK and Community Studies at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland. Before entering higher education as a lecturer I worked on many anti-sectarian and diversity projects as a community education organisor in Belfast, Northern Ireland throughout the period of conflict. I am now a lecturer in the Faculty of Law, Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Southampton,UK.

Susan Morgan

Lecturer, Department of Community Youth Work, University of Ulster
Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK


Ref: I08P0563