Critical Youth Work for Youth-Driven Innovation: A Theoretical Framework

  • Daniele Morciano
  • Maurizio Merico


A theoretical framework is presented which conceptualizes how youth work can empower or lead to youth-led innovation. Attention is given to critical youth work, its ability to uncover social inequality mechanisms and to support social emancipation of young people. A comprehensive definition of innovation opens reflection both with respect to the business or technological sphere and to the participatory and cultural domains. The sociological perspective helps to highlight the role of the youth worker as a mediator between the young peoples’ claims for change and the adults’ defense of social stability. The psychoanalysis aspect of the framework offers a theoretical lens to investigate the intra-psychic experiences set in motion when youth work plays a role of intergenerational mediation. Finally, social pedagogy suggests effective educational relationships among young people and youth workers when they strive for generating change.


Critical youth work Critical consciousness Theories of change Youth work models 



This chapter is based on the results of a research review carried out within the research project “Non-formal education as a tool of youth employability through youth-led innovation” (2016–2018), funded by the Puglia Region (Italy), “Future in Research” program.


While the authors together wrote the Introduction, Daniele Morciano contributed most substantially to the discussion regarding the paragraphs “Innovation and critical youth work” and “How critical youth work supports youth-driven innovation,” whereas Maurizio Merico contributed most to the discussion on the paragraph “Opportunities and challenges.”


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniele Morciano
    • 1
  • Maurizio Merico
    • 2
  1. 1.University of BariBariItaly
  2. 2.University of SalernoFiscianoItaly

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