Applied Sociology: the Business of Change

In a society increasingly committed to a belief in science and technology to solve almost everything, ‘the west’ is floundering in a sea of social and human crisis. Our technology has led us to seek data management as a trusted method of understanding and solving social issues.

However, data management has not delivered. Our children and young people continue to be the most vulnerable of all persons in our society. They also experience the most impact of gaps in the systems and initiatives we devise as we engage our responsibility to secure their best chance to thrive.

For decades, academics have done research to quantify young people who are ‘at risk’ and on our streets. Psychology and Sociology have claimed these young people as their territory, to explain them and to fix them. Despite best academic efforts to inform, initiatives created and implemented as interventions have done little to contribute to a sustained strategy to support the transition of youth to adult participation and purpose in mainstream society.

In a 1980’s Calgary context, a philanthropist offered two individuals, working out of the Calgary Interfaith Foodbank, an opportunity to design a non-traditional approach to challenge status quo methodologies which were not working well to ‘help’ young people who were maintaining their survival outside of mainstream options.  Specific focus was to create an innovative option for those seeking to exit the culture and economy of the streets.

It would require a new way of thinking and a participatory approach to learning from young people what would be helpful to them.  Applied Sociology grounded our social imagination.   We became social entrepreneurs.

The Back Door, a Youth Employment Society was created for this purpose in 1987.

To be continued….

M.D

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