A Genealogy of Youth Work’s Languages: Shapers

Allan Clyne


In this article I return to the work Bright (2015), Dawes (1975), Eagar (1953), Percival (1951), and Springhall (1977); to youth work’s second generation, born in or after 1856. I have named them youth work’s shapers: who translated youth work’s foundational Christian language beyond its initial tongue. Before providing a short biographical summary of these shapers I give a description of the most significant translations in youth work language; the move from its original Christian language into mono-theism and then into providential deism. I have called these, minor translations. Minor translations occur when a language’s motifs remain the same: ‘God’, ‘religion’, ‘spiritual’, ‘salvation’, ‘belief’, ‘worship’ but their application changes. The understanding of God, for example, extends beyond a Christian understanding, to an identifiable acknowledgement of a ‘deity’. Similarly, there remains a commitment to faith, but what faith means changes. I go on to show the nature of these translations before concluding that, despite these changes, youth work maintained differing forms of its foundational Christian language.


Youth Work; Christian Youth Work; History of Youth Work

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ISSN 2042-6968 (Online)
ISSN 1359-1983 (Print)