DILEMMAS OF PRACTICE IN THE ECOLOGY OF EMANCIPATORY YOUTH-ADULT PARTNERSHIPS
This article explores dilemmas that arise when using a participatory, experiential neighborhood problem-solving and planning program in settings that have different expectations and beliefs about youth and adults partnering in organizational and community decision-making. Using Bronfenbrenner’s (1979) ecology of human development and Wong, Zimmerman, and Parker’s (2010) pyramid of youth participation, a series of dilemmas are explored. These dilemmas include: negotiating challenges of power; scaling up youth-adult partnerships into organizational decision-making and governance; reconciling tensions between practices, principles, and values when disseminating a program from one organization to another; dealing with organizational events that occur outside the youth program; and succumbing to pressure to achieve funder-derived outcomes. Two insights emerge from the analysis of these dilemmas. First, young people embrace adult-provided structure when adults and young people are not ready to work in emancipatory youth-adult partnerships. Second, as we move toward emancipatory youth-adult partnerships, the developmental sphere of youth programs has to expand to include the activities, relationships, and roles that traditionally have been limited to organizational leadership and governance. Likewise the developmental sphere of the governing body has to incorporate the activities, relationships, and roles of what has typically been the youth program.
youth-adult partnerships, ecological analysis, organizational readiness
International Journal of Child, Youth & Family Studies
© University of Victoria
Victoria, BC Canada
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