Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

A fig leaf for action: Critical perspectives on youth policy in the UK

Oliver, Billie; Percy-Smith, Barry

A fig leaf for action: Critical perspectives on youth policy in the UK Thumbnail


Billie Oliver

Barry Percy-Smith


This paper discusses the changing approaches that governments in the Uk have adopted in response to youth issues and the extent to which these are reflected in dominant social constructions of youth. Our discussion offers a perspective on youth policy in the Uk in 2014 set within an historical context with a particular focus on policy from England. We outline the debates and issues facing youth policy as a result of the opportunities and tensions created by recent transformations of local authority services and changes to the way in which youth work is funded and consider the implications of this for young people. Finally we consider some of the key elements to youth policy in the current era of austerity. The picture of youth policy in the Uk highlights the extent to which ideological crusades based on moral panics and deficit models of youth have given rise to a stream of policies which have successively failed to connect with the lives of young people whilst redirecting the blame onto young people themselves. We argue that constantly changing and underfunded initiatives have done little more than provide a «fig leaf» to provide the illusion that something is being done.


Oliver, B., & Percy-Smith, B. (2014). A fig leaf for action: Critical perspectives on youth policy in the UK. Autonomie locali e servizi sociali, 2014(3), 443-459.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Dec 1, 2014
Deposit Date May 7, 2015
Publicly Available Date Jul 1, 2016
Journal Autonomie locali e servizi sociali
Print ISSN 0392-2278
Publisher Società Editrice il Mulino
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 2014
Issue 3
Pages 443-459
Keywords youth, modernization, youth work, inclusion, joined-up working, youth transitions, active citizenship
Public URL
Publisher URL


A Fig Leaf for Action Critical Perspectives on Youth Policy in the UK FINAL VERSION submitted to publisher nov 19.pdf (249 Kb)

Downloadable Citations