Purpose: Discourse can be regarded as established ways of talking that people adopt at certain points of time that help to inform their understanding of the world and how they should behave in it. Foucault (1998) explains discourse as both an instrument and an effect of power, transmitting and producing power, but also undermining and exposing it. Tilsen (2018) argues that prevailing discourses can marginalise young people through imposing specifications on what constitutes normal behaviour, as well as framing problems within totalising accounts. Often these are hidden and unacknowledged discourses that young people and youth work practitioners are not aware of; especially in terms of their role in contributing to their creation and maintenance. This paper explores the concept of discourse and subsequently discourse analysis as a methodology.
Approach: The paper examines how discourse analysis fits with youth work values and principles; providing a unique perspective to research with young people. There is also critical discussion on ethical concerns in discourse analysis; especially around ensuring young people’s authentic voice is heard above the researcher’s own analysis.
Practical Implications: The paper presents examples of how discourse analysis has been, and could be used in research with young people.
Originality: There is limited research that currently explores discourse analysis methodology in youth work research. The article concludes that discourse analysis is not an easy approach to research, but one that can give voice to young people to create counter discourse.
Keywords: Discourse Analysis, Youth Work, Youth Voice, Methodology, Covid-19