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The core purpose of this interdisciplinary Centre for Community and Social Justice is to bring together diverse communities to think critically about relations of power and social injustices to create a more inclusive, equal and democratic society. The Centre encourages external communities and organisations to join academic staff and students to research collaboratively and to disseminate knowledge for the wider social good.


Centre for Community and Social Justice Seminar Series March-June 2023

This semester seminars will run on selected Wednesday lunchtimes/afternoons. These are free lunchtime events, open to all staff, students and members of the community. Please feel free to bring your own refreshments. For more details, or to propose an abstract for a future seminar, please contact either Pete Harris or Claire Monk


15th March 1:15-2:15pm. DA022 Kiah Bond

‘We are the Borg. Lower your shields and surrender your ships. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to serve us. Resistance is futile.’ 

This seminar will refer to recent reports and doctoral research to consider how neoliberalism and its handmaiden, performativity, continue to perpetuate in the professional and daily lives of educational professionals, with specific reference to the experiences of secondary school students. Through the use of a ‘dramatis personae’, the paper will introduce participants who were involved in my qualitative research (students, staff and parents) and share their experiences of performativity and coping strategies. I will suggest ways in which communities of practice which recognise the importance of cultivating human interaction, support relational pedagogy, professional values and collaboration can counteract the prevailing focus on accountability by numbers in a positive and proactive manner.


22nd March 1:15-2:15pm. DA022 Paulette Sawyers

It’s not all girlfriends and boyfriends: black young people’s alternate talk about heterosexual romantic relationships

This seminar will present research with heterosexual black young people aged 13-19 years of African-Caribbean descent and their uses of alternate romantic relationship labels specifically, ‘wifey, baby mother, side piece and link’ ( Using Black Feminist epistemology and Black Feminist Critical Discourse Analysis, I aim to understand the material experiences of power and/or powerlessness and potential violence for Black girls within such racio-linguistic practices. By exploring this alternate talk about romantic relationships within black Caribbean cultural contexts, my study seeks to contribute to the wider knowledge of contemporary romantic relationships discourse broadly and the importance of its inclusion within RSE curricula more specifically.


29th March 1:15-2:15pm. DA022 Pete Harris and Harriet Cutler

Responding to Gender-Based Abuse and Violence in Schools

This seminar looks at how the authors sought to position themselves in a social pedagogic space in a comprehensive co-educational school when delivering a psychoeducational intervention designed to address harmful sexual behaviour with boys (Harm Free Futures). Taking a qualitative approach, we seek to convey the detail of the interactions between ourselves and a group of 10 year 9 pupils over a 6-week period, showing how certain aspects of that interaction enabled progress on the project objectives broadly specified as the promotion of gender equality and mutual respect amongst boys and girls in the school and reduction of risky and harmful sexual behaviour. We want to show how our positioning in relation to the boys engendered outcomes that, if mirrored elsewhere, could reduce the risk of HSB, thereby highlighting themes that might be of use to policy makers in this area.


5th April 5-8pm. DW101 Mark Cronin

Early Childhood Education and Care @ Newman – Integrated Working and a Community of Practice

This event will see Newman ECEC alumni coming back on-campus for an early evening event to reflect on and discuss how Integrated Working in ECEC and the development of a Community of Practice can help us to meet the needs of the children and families with a Social Justice aim.  The evening will consist of some workshop discussions around the potential value of Integrated Working in meeting the needs of those children we are supporting and how the development of an ECEC Community of Practice could support our alumni’s continuing professional development. It will also feature some past Newman students discussing their journeys into a range of different professions/careers which we know from feedback from some of our alumni students is of particular interest. To help entice our ECEC alumni back to see us we will be offering some free food/drink and the opportunity for their thoughts/ideas to feature in the upcoming publication of a book debating the value of Integrated Working in ECEC. The evening will be an informal event which will hopefully present our ECEC alumni with some exciting opportunities to strengthen their connections with the ECEC team here at Newman University and we are extending this invitation to any ECEC colleagues who work with our alumni who might be interested in the work we do here.

Useful Links

The Letterpress Project is a small, independent voluntary initiative that was founded and is maintained by two former Newman University senior lecturers, Karen Argent and Terry Potter. The aim of the project is to promote the importance of reading and handling physical books and to inspire adults, younger readers and children to explore literature that they might not have encountered through school or current popular culture. Letterpress prioritise working for free in schools or with community projects where books are often not a high priority and believes that this is especially important in helping address issues of social exclusion and marginalisation.

Vulnerability 360 (V360) is a website resource that collects and archives news and research relating to children, young people and children who are regarded as ‘vulnerable’ but also seeks to challenge the predominant assumptions of neo-liberal social policy which sees the poor, the marginalized and the disenfranchised as the architects of their own misfortune. The website is maintained as an independent voluntary project and was the result of work done by current and former members of teaching staff at Newman University.

Articles and Publications

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In this article, Pete Harris considers the need for a psycho-social approach in the forms of youth work that employ ex-offenders as role models with young people involved in violence. Harris recognises the potential of this form of youth work practice but emphasises a need for professional training and supervision that draws on reflexive processes for the worker. He argues that psychodynamic approaches are useful in the training and supervision for this form of youth work.

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This article argues that psychosocial theory can enhance understanding of intersubjective dynamics between workers and young people involved in crime and violence. After introducing some conceptual tools from psychoanalysis and post-structural theory, a case study follows a worker’s efforts to bring about a young man’s desistance (including the worker’s use of self-disclosure) and how this is stymied by systemic failings in a homeless hostel in the UK. The article concludes that professional work in services targeted at young people with multiple support needs requires a deep sensibility to intersubjective and unconscious dynamics within professional relationships and organisations.

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This article explores late modern Black and Muslim young men’s and women’s experiences of higher education. Carrying out qualitative research with 14 male and female young people, these students claimed that their Youth and Community Work course at their university made available an alternative representational space, enabling them to develop a major transformation of their sense of identity and self. In deploying the term pedagogical self, we are attempting to capture their naming pedagogy as central, in their terms, to the ‘reinvention of their selves’. We conclude by suggesting that our research participants’ narratives are located within an exploration of late modern identity and the self in higher education. In turn, this enables us to reflect on a generational shift in meanings around racialisation and difference in thinking about the future of higher education in Britain.

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The main argument in this article is that the rationale for the state’s growing interest in children (in particular those children who are considered a social problem) and the emerging social policy solutions, i.e., foster care, are driven by particular political and economic agendas which have historically paid little attention to the needs of these children and young people. This article explores the relationship between the state, the child and their family and the drivers for this transformation in children’s public care making use of a genealogical approach to identify the key social, political and historical factors, which have provided the context for this change. It examines the increasing interest of the state in the lives of children and families and the associated motivation for the emerging objectification of children.

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This book draws on the findings of a two-year European research project to offer answers to the ‘problem’ of how to respond to violence involving young people that continues to challenge youth workers and policy makers.

‘Responding to violence through youth work’ combines elements of critical theory, psychosocial criminology and applied existential philosophy to present a new model for responding meaningfully and effectively to these issues, demonstrated through a series of case studies and insider accounts generated through peer research.

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This fully revised and expanded edition considers the meaning of ‘vulnerability’ – a key concept in early intervention – and the relationship between vulnerability and the individual, communities and society. It includes new chapters on children’s voices, young people and vulnerability, and working with vulnerable parents.

Introducing students to a broad debate around what constitutes vulnerability and related concepts such as risk and resilience, it examines how vulnerability has been conceptualised by policy makers with a clear focus on early intervention for preventing social problems later in life. It adopts a case study approach, using chapters examining the concept of vulnerability from sociological, psychological and social policy perspectives before looking at examples around leaving care, victims of violence, sexual abuse, and the Internet.

Supporting students in engaging with and evaluating the conceptualisation and application of vulnerability in professional practice, this book is suitable for anyone either preparing for or currently working within the children’s workforce, from social work and health care to education and youth work.