Looking out for the lads focuses on the efforts of local residents in Cork, Ireland, to use a "community action" approach to deal with various self-identified youth problems, such as unemployment, crime, and substance abuse. Adopting a critical perspective, this book emphasizes the link between micro- and macro-levels of analysis, through an argument that suggests that the action of local political actors must be interpreted in the light of the omnipresent influence of hegemonic forces that operate to assist, or conversely contain, control, and obstruct the community development process. In this case, while the dominant institutions of youth provision (the Catholic Church, the government, and the large voluntary organizations) overtly supported the notion of community-based services through rhetoric, symbolic imagery, and capital projects, their actions in fact underminded public faith in local institutions struggling to develop reponsive youth services.
Stephen A. Gaetz is a Health Promoter at Shout Clinic, a health centre for street youth in Toronto. His professional and academic training and experience have focused on community development and program planning with regards to youth services in urban settings in Canada and Ireland. From a theoretical perspective this has meant examining the relationship between local-level political processes and broader soci-political forces.