Breathing space: everyday juggles in the practice of care in an Italian youth centre

Research output: Working paperAcademic

18 Downloads (Pure)


This research paper presents the case study of a youth centre situated in a small town in northern Italy. Based on ethnographic research, I investigate the care practices performed inside this centre between staff and youth. The variety of data and the layers of meaning of the place and of the interactions inside of it require a post-structuralist approach that allows to understand these practices in their everyday evolution.
The physical space of the centre is where this dialogue can start and the location of the centre in the disadvantaged outskirt of the town brings additional meaning to it. The migrant youth frequenting the centre are labelled as disadvantaged, yet such labelling plays little role once at the centre where they find a place to enjoy privacy, exercise agency, have control over the labels attached to them and to allow themselves to face their vulnerabilities or to take a breather from them.
The guiding research question is about the practice of care being performed beyond policy guidelines. The ethnographic fieldwork, in addition to my previous work experience in the same place, allowed me to read the fine print of the place and of the people who live it and to work it out against the bureaucracy surrounding both the profession and youth centres. The lack of clear-cut guidelines on both sides generates an unclear and composite reality and facilitates diversity in implementation leaving the needed flexibility of action that is core to this type of work.
The closing of the work is that this unscripted practice of care is so fundamental that running a youth centre exclusively following the rules would strongly diminish the efficacy of the intervention.

Note: The podcast is co-created with three participants in the research; its aim is to be a long-lasting product made from and for the participants where they had the chance to talk about the centre in the way they preferred. This has also been done following an ethics of care. The language used is Italian and some parts are silenced or cut to preserve the anonymity of the place and of the participants.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationDen Haag
PublisherInternational Institute of Social Studies (ISS)
Number of pages41
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022

Publication series

SeriesISS working papers. General series


Dive into the research topics of 'Breathing space: everyday juggles in the practice of care in an Italian youth centre'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this