Youth Work: An Institutional Ethnography of Youth Homelessness

By Naomi Nichols

© 2014

Combining institutional ethnography and community-based research, Youth Work is a sophisticated examination of the troubling experiences of young people living outside the care of parents or guardians, as well as of the difficulties of the frontline workers who take responsibility for assisting them. Drawing from more than a year of on-site research at an Ontario youth emergency shelter, Naomi Nichols exposes the complicated institutional practices that govern both the lives of young people living in shelters and the workers who try to help them.

A troubling account of how a managerial focus on principles like “accountability” and “risk management” has failed to successfully coordinate and deliver services to vulnerable members of society, Youth Work shows how competitive funding processes, institutional mandates, and inter-organizational conflicts complicate the lives of the young people that they are supposed to help. Nichols’s book is essential reading for those involved in education, social services, mental health, and the justice system, as well as anyone with an interest in social justice.

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Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 168 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.1in x 0.5in x 9.0in
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SKU# SP003698

  • PUBLISHED AUG 2014

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    ISBN 9781442615557
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    ISBN 9781442647435
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Quick Overview

Youth Work is a sophisticated examination of the troubling experiences of young people living outside the care of parents or guardians, as well as of the difficulties of the frontline workers who take responsibility for assisting them.

Youth Work: An Institutional Ethnography of Youth Homelessness

By Naomi Nichols

© 2014

Combining institutional ethnography and community-based research, Youth Work is a sophisticated examination of the troubling experiences of young people living outside the care of parents or guardians, as well as of the difficulties of the frontline workers who take responsibility for assisting them. Drawing from more than a year of on-site research at an Ontario youth emergency shelter, Naomi Nichols exposes the complicated institutional practices that govern both the lives of young people living in shelters and the workers who try to help them.

A troubling account of how a managerial focus on principles like “accountability” and “risk management” has failed to successfully coordinate and deliver services to vulnerable members of society, Youth Work shows how competitive funding processes, institutional mandates, and inter-organizational conflicts complicate the lives of the young people that they are supposed to help. Nichols’s book is essential reading for those involved in education, social services, mental health, and the justice system, as well as anyone with an interest in social justice.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 168 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.1in x 0.5in x 9.0in
  • Reviews

    ‘This work is a fantastic example of ethnographic research and is put together in a way that allows the research to tell a story. A story indeed worth telling.’


    Chad Brown
    The Journal of Youth Adolescence April 2015

    “The case studies in Youth Work present the reader with the complexities and nuances of bureaucratic worlds within social services, exploring an area that has had little academic attention.”
    Jeff Karabanow, School of Social Work, Dalhousie University

    Youth Work is a valuable contribution to the Canadian literature on homelessness and to institutional ethnographies in general. The book’s key insight is chilling: that the work of these institutions is organized in response to market-logic imperatives of ‘accountability’ and ‘risk management,’ not in response to young people’s immediate needs for food, shelter, safety, and care.”
    Emily Paradis, Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto

    Youth Work offers distinctive new information on the intersection between vulnerable youth and the agencies to which they turn for help, or which try to manage their risky behaviour. Nichols’s data are in-depth and insightful, and she links her work extensively with other relevant institutional ethnographic studies focusing on social service delivery, public management, and policy studies.”
    Sylvia Hale, Department of Sociology, St Thomas University
  • Author Information

    Naomi Nichols is an assistant professor in the Faculty of Education at McGill University. Nichols’ primary research focus is youth equity. She has published extensively on structural and policy drivers of inequality, poverty, and homelessness. Her secondary research focus is on processes of mobilizing diverse forms of knowledge to influence equitable social and policy change. Her central objective is to generate and mobilize an evidence base, which will drive processes of practice, policy and institutional change

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