Crossing educational boundaries in youth work as social pedagogy

Edward Beggan, Annette Coburn

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


This paper shares lessons from our research on practices in Scotland to argue that border pedagogy can be regarded as a threshold concept (Land, Meyer and Baillie, 2010; Coburn and Gormally, 2015) which allows for a refreshed conceptualisation of youth work as social pedagogy for social justice and inclusion. In proposing youth work as education, Harland and McCready (2012) assert the need for professional equity across educational methodologies (inside and outside of schools). Yet, this has been slow to develop.

Situated on the boundaries of social work and formalised education, social pedagogy offers possibilities for holistic and multiple responses that enable young people to flourish and to make a positive contribution to their communities. As social pedagogy, youth work engages young people in crossing lifestyle, professional and social boundaries (such as those of education, culture, health and social work) that contribute to decision-making about their lives and about youth work practice and policy. In this way, youth work can help young people at micro and macro levels to challenge dominant discourses that seek to regulate and control their lives.

We propose that border pedagogy offers a threshold concept which can prompt discussion regarding the future for youth work in schools: where new configurations of methodological praxis can be realised across a range of professional domains. Practiced as social pedagogy, we are optimistic for new and sustainable futures for youth work and its role in education for social justice.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 22 Nov 2017
EventScottish Educational Research Association Annual Conference : Educational Futures in a Changing Landscape: Bridging Boundaries or "Mind the Gap"? - University of the West of Scotland, Ayr, United Kingdom
Duration: 22 Nov 201724 Nov 2017


ConferenceScottish Educational Research Association Annual Conference
Abbreviated titleSERA Conference 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • youth work
  • youth and community work
  • social pedagogy
  • critical pedagogy


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