The type and quality of popular youth identities provides young people living in residual housing areas (RHAs) with opportunities for action and structural constraints. Three ethnographies, based on a practitioner’s observations, interviews and participation in local networks, identify young people’s resistant identities. Through an analysis of social exclusion, youth policies and interviews with young people, practitioners/managers, the thesis outlines network relations that hinder informal learning relationships. \ud \ud Drawing on Castells’ (1996/97/98) and Touraine’s (2000) models of identity, we explore youth as a category of time and residual housing areas as a category of space, in relation to local dynamics of social exclusion. We conclude that globalisation, individualisation, welfare/education reform and the rise of cultural social movements act upon youth identities and steer youth policies to subordinate the notion of informal group learning. The combination of these factors, coupled with a policy focus on the outcomes of social exclusion initiatives, makes young people’s voluntary association with adults limited and limiting. \ud Current UK youth policies recognise young people pursuing resistant strategies and suggest they receive additional adult intervention. This thesis agrees with such interventions but opposes the surveillance and control practices permeating the professional/client casework model of current national strategies. The thesis explores young people’s ability to build meaningful personal identities. It illustrates strain between young people’s strategies of resistance and agencies aiming to reduce social exclusion in RHAs. Building on established youth work methods, it outlines necessary conditions of a non/in-formal learning relationship, which encourages young people to form multiple personal identities. This strategy helps them avoid prolonged periods of social exclusion and negotiate the influence of markets and communities appropriately.\u
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