Edited by Filip Coussée, Griet Verschelden, Tineke Van de Walle, Marta Mędlińska and Howard Williamson

Council of Europe, September 2010. ISBN 978-92-871-6824-5

Youth work starts where young people are. It is perhaps this general principle that seems to create a certain 'myopic view' in youth work practice, policy and research. We tend to concentrate on the questions of today and take them as a starting point for our future plans. This sometimes makes youth work an uncertain and fragile practice. The lack of historical consciousness makes youth work vulnerable to instrumentalisation, whether by policymakers or even by young people themselves, claiming youth work should fulfil the needs they define to be urgent and relevant.

Youth work is a contingent practice and history will not reveal to us its one and only real identity. Knowing where we come from, however, is an important step in establishing a confident, though not arrogant, identity. Youth work is a social and pedagogical practice that must be adapted to very diverse historical, geographic and social contexts, but there are still some underlying, basic assumptions that have structured practices and policies to date and continue to do so. In this light, a cross-cultural and transnational perspective can be most enlightening.

This second volume of The history of youth work in Europe, presents the youth work histories of some very different countries: Belgium and its three communities, the Netherlands, Ireland, Wales and Hungary. The reader is also introduced to the history of the relatively young European youth policies, and is even given a glimpse beyond European borders with a history of youth work in South Africa.

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