“This is our future”: Youth Social Action and National Citizen Service
Mills, Sarah; Waite, Catherine (2016)


Sarah Mills (presenting) & Catherine Waite, Department of Geography, Loughborough University

This paper outlines the relationship between youth social action and active responsible citizenship, using the case-study of National Citizen Service. The paper contributes to the VSSN theme by exploring the framing of the individual ‘good’ young citizen alongside wider attempts to label young volunteers as a generation of citizens embedded within civil society. Drawing on an ESRC-funded research project on National Citizen Service (NCS) in England and Northern Ireland, the paper examines the ‘place’ of social action within this wider programme for older teenagers. We argue for closer attention to the boundaries between social and political action and the value given to different types of activities. Furthermore, the paper asks provocative questions around the hidden costs of NCS social action projects shaped by social class. We draw on data from our original fieldwork to illustrate state narratives of youth social action, the views of NCS delivery partners, and the experiences of NCS participants and graduates.

Dr Sarah Mills is a Senior Lecturer in Human Geography at Loughborough University. Her research explores the geographies of youth citizenship, informal education and volunteering.  She is the co-editor of ‘Politics, Citizenship & Rights’ (Springer, 2016) and ‘Informal Education, Childhood & Youth: Geographies, Histories, Practices’ (Palgrave, 2014).


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