Thomas, Paul (2003) Young people, community cohesion and the role of youth work in building social capital. Youth and Policy (81). pp. 21-43. ISSN 0262-9798

The summer of 2001 saw the most serious scenes of violent disorder in
British towns since the inner-city riots of 1981. Bradford, Burnley, Leeds and
Oldham all witnessed rioting involving multiple arrests, damage to property
and injury to both members of the public and police officers.
Two themes dominated discussions of the events, both during and since. The
first theme is youth. Young people under the age of 25 were the main
protagonists in all these riots (Denham, 2001; Cantle, 2001). Many were
subsequently arrested and imprisoned. The second and dominant theme is
race. All these disturbances involved young people of south Asian origin
fighting with white young people and or the police. In Bradford, Burnley and
Oldham, explicitly racist campaigning by the neo-nazi BNP was a clear factor.
This paper aims to explore both these themes, placing them within the context
of 'Community Cohesion', a concept that was rapidly developed as the
dominant parameter of discussion in the numerous subsequent central/local
government reports. Alongside these themes of youth and race, this paper
examines Putnam's (2000) concept of 'social capital', arguing that youth work
can play an unique role in promoting genuine 'community cohesion' through
the creation of what Putnam terms 'Bridging Social Capital'


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