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How “Godparents” Are Made for “Unaccompanied Refugee Minors”: An Ethnographic View into the Training of Future Youth Mentors
AuthorRaithelhuber, Eberhard
Published in
Child and Youth Services, 2018, Vol. 39, page 1-36
PublishedTaylor & Francis, 2018
Document typeJournal Article
Keywords (EN)civil society; mentor training; social problems work; unaccompanied / refugee minors; youth mentoring
URNurn:nbn:at:at-ubs:3-10165 Persistent Identifier (URN)
 The work is publicly available
How “Godparents” Are Made for “Unaccompanied Refugee Minors”: An Ethnographic View into the Training of Future Youth Mentors [2.43 mb]
Abstract (English)

There are many qualitative studies on interactions and activities within mentoring, including on organizational processes. This article concentrates on one pivotal aspect regarding the “doings” of mentorshipthe training of future voluntary mentors (known as "godparents") for separated young refugees in a pilot program. The underlying study looks at knowledge production in mentoring. The explorative research done in Austria started during the so-called refugee crisis in Europe in 2015. Using data from participant observation, the “triangle of godparenthood” is reconstructed as a core structure underlying the overall pilot program. Thus the ideal-type figures of the “family-like,” the “professional,” and the “committed contractual” godparent become visible. The interpretation discusses youth mentoring as a form of social problems work. Accordingly, the study shows how social protection is organized based on particular social problematizations and on the construction of voluntary mentors from civil society. The training “teaches” future mentors what kind of young people their counterparts are. It offers a problematization according to which particular “needs” are defined. This allows mentors to legitimize, rationalize, and moralize what is, in the end, a pedagogical approach. By relating the problematization to a personal level, the training provides future mentors with a particular idea and moral obligation regarding what they personally can be for those young people who are categorized as “unaccompanied refugee minors.”

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