A discourse and practice gap in working with youth-at-disadvantage in the outreach social work service in Hong Kong

  • Hau-lin Tam
  • Published 2015


a r t i c l e i n f o Keywords: Foucault's discourse analytic approach Disciplinary and confessional controls Discourse and practice gap Outreach social work In this study, the discourses of outreach youth workers reveal that the majority of them are quite conscious of how broader social, contextual and familial changes impact the problem behavior of young people in Hong Kong. Moreover, many of them prefer not to be strict social control agents who harshly regulate the behavior of young people, as expected by society. Ideally, these workers can be a force for social change when they are highly conscious of social impacts on the situations of young people and do not prefer to be strict social control agents. In their everyday practices, however, the ways by which they select and assemble their work are political and complicated. Their discourses are usually subjugated in the complex relations of power at work between the policy demands on the work focus and to the output standards of the service, on the one hand, and the orientations of the agencies, on the other. As a result, what they do remains at the personal and remedial level in regulating the problem behavior of young people. Although none among them has denied the importance of including both micro and macro levels of intervention in the service, a discourse and practice gap does exist in their everyday practices. Under the wave of globalization and the various crises that occurred all over the world, such as the Asian economic crisis in the sec-and the recent European debt crisis, Hong Kong has been undergoing a prolonged period of hardship in its socioeconomic, political, cultural, and familial development. The crises of the past years have influenced not only the property market and the stability of Hong Kong society, but also the growth and development of its young people. Issues concerning young people, such as the traumatically high youth unemployment rates, the rise in the number of young drug abusers, the number of young people who are addicted to the Internet or who are socially withdrawn, and bullying in school, have placed young people in a more disadvantaged position in society. Similar to the situations in other countries (Hebdige, 1988; Wong & Chiu, 1998), when issues concerning young people emerge, discourses on the situations of young people proliferate and are propagated in the public and among government officials, …

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@inproceedings{Tam2015ADA, title={A discourse and practice gap in working with youth-at-disadvantage in the outreach social work service in Hong Kong}, author={Hau-lin Tam}, year={2015} }