Seeking voices
: the role of grassroots youth work in Preventing / Countering Violent Extremism in the UK

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


This study analyses the role of youth work in efforts to Prevent/Counter Violent Extremism (P/CVE) in the UK, in order to shed light on the complex relationship between P/CVE policies and pre-existing youth work practices, traditions and knowledge. Most of the academic research on P/CVE and counter-terrorism in the UK has examined the effects of Prevent policy on front-line professional services such as youth work, education and health care, particularly focusing on the security-framed interventions disproportionately targeting ethnic and religious minorities. However, there has been less attention on P/CVE work that goes beyond Prevent policy. I address this gap in the literature by drawing from first-hand experiences of youth workers and practitioners belonging to organisations funded through different pathways – Prevent, hybrid and independent funding sources – to analyse their strategies and resources in navigating a polarised P/CVE field. Furthermore, the analytic focus of this study on security governance contributes to the literature on P/CVE, Governance and Policy studies that has expanded the understanding of Prevent policy implementation in the front-line beyond binary tensions between policy design (top-down) and front-line agency (bottom-up). This study therefore provides a detailed picture of P/CVE youth work, with a specific focus on the agency of youth workers/practitioners in their delivery of P/CVE policy, based on their wider expertise in supporting youth in their local communities.
Date of Award28 Sep 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorTariq Modood (Supervisor) & Therese O'Toole (Supervisor)


  • Violent Extremism, Prevent, P/CVE, PVE, Youth Work, Security Governance

Cite this