The development of agency in professional youth work with girls and young women in the Netherlands

C. Boomkens*, J.W. Metz, M.R.F. Van Regenmortel, R. Schalk

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Young people living in north-west European welfare states are challenged to develop their individual strength. This is especially difficult for girls living in vulnerable circumstances, because they face a form of marginalization. Girls work is a method of professional youth work that supports girls in their identity development, making them more capable of shaping their own lives now and as adults. This is conceptualized as agency, which consist of the properties: intentionality, forethought, self-reactiveness, self-reflection. This paper examines the extent to which girls work helps girls living in vulnerable circumstances to develop their individual strength.

Findings
The article is based on a questionnaire filled out by 393 girls who participate in 59 girls work activities in the Netherlands. This study shows that participation in girls work contributes to the development of intentionality of these girls (F(3,387)¼4.60, p¼.004). Furthermore, girls who received an individual approach are better capable of reflecting on their actions than girls who only participated in group activities (F(2,388)¼3.10, p¼.046).

Applications
The findings suggest that participation in girls work contributes to the intentionality of girls in vulnerable circumstances, which is an important step in the development of agency. But to accomplish this, girls need to learn how to act upon their personal intentions. However, the findings do not show that girls work contributes to the other properties of agency, suggesting that to support girls in shaping their own lives, youth workers need to contribute more to the other levels of agency.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)719-735
JournalJournal of Social Work
Volume19
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Keywords

  • Social work
  • identity
  • quantitative research
  • social work research
  • women
  • youth work

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