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PAPER – Subjectivities and the Space of Possibilities in Youth Programs: Countering Majoritarian Stories as Social Change in the Australian Context

By August 19, 2022August 22nd, 2022News Items, Published Papers

Samuel Keast & Christopher  Sonn

The status quo of many not-for-profit organisations is well-intentioned service provision often coupled with an absence of critical understanding sustained by the restricting nature of neoliberal bureaucracy and funding. In this context, programs aimed at assisting young people from marginalised communities can become mired in individualistic thinking that constrains the space of possibilities for young people through depoliticisation and decontextualization of their realities and thus the kinds of subjectivities available to them. The challenge for the evaluation we discuss in this paper was not only to evaluate the outcomes of the program, but to promote community narratives about the realities for young racialized people in Australia that counter majoritarian stories. We conclude that social change begins within the multidirectional relationships and contact zones of the stakeholders, participants and researchers of youth programs. This means, extending the focus beyond generic youth development and moving toward engaging young people in critical social analysis and empowering them as future social change agents in their communities.