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Peter Hart – School of Applied Social Sciences Sacred Building, Secular Club UNDERSTANDING THE YOUTH CLUB AS A CONTESTED SPACE.

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Presentation on theme: "Peter Hart – School of Applied Social Sciences Sacred Building, Secular Club UNDERSTANDING THE YOUTH CLUB AS A CONTESTED SPACE."— Presentation transcript:

1 Peter Hart – School of Applied Social Sciences Sacred Building, Secular Club UNDERSTANDING THE YOUTH CLUB AS A CONTESTED SPACE.

2 Peter Hart – School of Applied Social Sciences Sacred Building, Secular Club Overview  Describe the history and present situation at a youth café attached to a church  Consider the youth café as a ‘contested space’

3 Peter Hart – School of Applied Social Sciences Sacred Building, Secular Club Methodology  4 organisations: Church, Church-based youth café, Community centre, Local Authority centre.  Ethnographic study:  ~90 observations  ~8 focus groups with young people  ~25 interviews with youth workers and managers  Part of a wider PhD considering how ‘professional boundaries’ are negotiated between workers and young people in practice.

4 Peter Hart – School of Applied Social Sciences Sacred Building, Secular Club Sacred Building?  Opened 2003 with EU funding.  Attached to a Baptist church (literally).  Evangelical church. Implicit evangelistic aims.  The hope of ‘discipleship’  Differences between formal, espoused and operant theology (Cameron et al. 2010, Gallagher 2005).

5 Peter Hart – School of Applied Social Sciences Sacred Building, Secular Club Secular club?  Current workers are not practicing Christians.  ‘Typical’ cycle followed: Faith community participation declines. If (when?) funding ceases the project begins to decline. Limits imposed by funding bodies. Motivation for initial enthusiasm compromised. When capacity becomes limited external funding is sought. Project set up with enthusiasm from faith community. (For example, Goode 2006)

6 Peter Hart – School of Applied Social Sciences Sacred Building, Secular Club Conflict “You’re only here because you’re a Christian” “They don’t care about the kids. They just care about the building and the bills” “They want Christian workers, but you can’t get funding for that” “This isn’t how it was supposed to be. This is a place of discipleship” “If we get a playstation, they can’t use it. They’ll break it” “[The youth workers] are lone rangers” “If we can’t use the playstation, I’ll put a cover on the pool table” Church members and leaders Youth workers, management committee, and young people

7 Peter Hart – School of Applied Social Sciences Sacred Building, Secular Club Contest spaces  Schmelzkopf (1995) & New York Community Gardens, and Valentine (2001):  Differing ideologies on the purpose of the space.  Negotiations over resources and threats of the removal of privileges.  Conflict over control.  Removal of groups of people from the space.  Spaces of apprehension and insecurity.  Aesthetics mirror uncertainty and fear.

8 Peter Hart – School of Applied Social Sciences Sacred Building, Secular Club Youth café as a contested space?  Differing ideologies on the purpose of the space.  Negotiations over resources and threats of the removal of privileges.  Conflict over control.  Removal of groups of people from the space.  Spaces of apprehension and insecurity.  Aesthetics mirror uncertainty and fear.  A space for young people to drop in versus a space of active discipleship and evangelism  Tension over use of shared resources. Some groups of young people prevented from using church resources.  Conflict over who applies for funding and who attends funding meetings.  Church members and leaders having greater sanctions than youth workers.  Lack of funding, very low numbers of young people.  Badly maintained building, broken equipment and resources.

9 Peter Hart – School of Applied Social Sciences Sacred Building, Secular Club Conclusion  Is the youth café best conceived of as a contested space?  Yes.  What are the implications of this on the youth club and the young people?  Not sure… but it seems an important stage in, or possibly cause of, the process of movement from church ownership to estrangement in community projects. Faith community participation declines. If (when?) funding ceases the project begins to decline. Limits imposed by funding bodies. Motivation for initial enthusiasm compromised. When capacity becomes limited external funding is sought. Project set up with enthusiasm from faith community.

10 Peter Hart – School of Applied Social Sciences Sacred Building, Secular Club References Cameron, H, Bhatti, D, Duce, C, Sweeney, J and Watkins, C (2010) Talking about God in Practice Norwich: SCM press Gallagher, S. K. (2005) 'Building Traditions: Comparing Space, Ritual, and Community in Three Congregations', Review of Religious Research, 47(1), Goode, J. (2006) 'Faith-based organizations in Philadelphia: Neoliberal ideology and the decline of political activism', Urban Anthropology and Studies of Cultural Systems and World Economic Development, Schmelzkopf, K. (1995) 'Urban community gardens as contested space', Geographical Review, 85(3), Valentine, G. (2001) Social geographies: space and society, Pearson College Division

11 Peter Hart – School of Applied Social Sciences Sacred Building, Secular Club Sacred Building, Secular Club: UNDERSTANDING THE YOUTH CLUB AS A CONTESTED SPACE.


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