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Restorative Practices And Youth Work

Ben Arnold Lohmeyer

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Restorative practices (RP) and youth work continue to emerge as more formalized fields of theory and practice. The interaction between these fields requires attention as RP gain popularity among services delivered to young people. Of particular importance, and currently receiving inadequate attention, is a tension regarding the conceptualization of power in the relationship between practitioners and young people. This article examines the conceptualization of power within youth work and restorative practices drawing on post-structural power–knowledge relations. A shared emphasis on empowerment and relationality within these fields obscures the problematization of the young person–worker dynamic. Of concern in particular is that restorative practices appear to operate within a power–knowledge discourse of control. This article will outline the frameworks’ potential as a source of both transformation and extension of a ‘carceral network’.