Boundary Management Practices In Youth Work Relationships Between Young People And Practitioners On Online Social Network Sites

Liesl Conradie

Abstract


A report published by the National Youth Agency (NYA) in England during 2008 found that the majority of social network site on-line interaction between youth work practitioners and young people took place 'under the radar'. 'Under the radar' or 'unsanctioned', in this context was defined as outside the relevant guidance and without the line manager's agreement. My research set out to find why and how this is taking place, and the meaning attached to this practice to the different role players. As part of my qualitative research I interviewed twenty-one youth work practitioners (paid and voluntary) from a variety of backgrounds and fourteen young people over the age of 16, who are accessing universal youth work. Youth work practitioners and young people differ in their reasons for wanting to 'friend' each other on social media and what this signifies; is it a professional or personal relationship or a hybrid of the two? Boundaries and expectations of the 'audience' become blurred and perforated. Combined with the ever-changing nature of the technology itself, maintaining or developing professional relationships through social network sites becomes challenging. This article explores the boundary management techniques used by young people and practitioners in online social network sites to maintain developed relationships. The study uncovered limited dissemination of existing policies which resulted in diverse practice. Most unsanctioned connections took place with the best intentions and in order to support rather than with malicious intent

Keywords


boundaries, boundary management, England, practitioners, social network sites, young people, youth work

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References


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