Investigating the Transformational Potential of ‘Professional Love’ in Work with Young People

Martin Purcell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper makes an important contribution to debate about the values underpinning radical approaches to Youth and Community Work. It explores the extent to which ‘love’ as an element of professional practice in community development and youth work can be liberating, healing and catalytic for both practitioners and service users. Drawing on lessons from community development and youth work theory and practice, as well as other traditions, it proposes an approach to work with young people featuring ‘professional love’ at its core, which it claims can be transformative and liberating.

Attention is paid to identifying the challenges faced by young people living in the postmodern era, and to understanding how this potentially contributes to a heightened need for love in their lives. The ways in which ‘love’ features in professional practice is also explored, particularly in a youth work context.

Informed by the preparation for a piece of ongoing collaborative research investigating this phenomenon, the paper builds on the work of Jools Page, who has developed the concept of ‘professional love’ in her work in early years contexts. The paper identifies a range of professionals whose work with children and young people would benefit from adopting a professionally loving form of practice, modified to reflect the unique characteristics and values base of youth and community work.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
JournalRadical Community Work Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 9 Mar 2018


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