Date of Award


Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (Research)


Institute of Technology Tralee

First Advisor

Dr. Colm O'Doherty

Second Advisor

Dr. Tom Farrelly


This study is an action research that has been conducted with the collaboration of the Kerry Diocesan Youth Service. Its primary objective has been to examine the influencing elements that encourage or impede the activation of social entrepreneurship in the youth sector in Ireland. Also, how through participation in social entrepreneurship activity young people can be linked with further education, training or attachment to the labour market. Using a mixed method data gathering approach by means of a quantitative online national survey and qualitative semi-structured interviews, this research has garnered an understanding of how practitioners and key stakeholders conceptualise the process and role of Activating Social Entrepreneurship Opportunities in the Youth Sector (ASEOYS).

Key findings of this study have indicated that there is a prodigious agreement among stakeholders that participation in social entrepreneurship plays a pivotal role in youth work practice and the positive development of young people. Further findings indicated however that funding model issues may be responsible for inhibiting the process of ASEOYS.

The Department of Children and Youth Affairs National Youth Strategy 2015-2020 policy document, emphasises that '‘the aim of the National Youth Strategy is to enable young people to realise their maximum potential, by respecting their rights and hearing their voices, while protecting and supporting them as they transition from childhood to adulthood”. The fifth outcome area of the document specifies that young people should be: “connected, respected and contributing to their world”. Social entrepreneurship education, and the provision of opportunities for young people to engage in active citizenship through youth organisations is deemed integral to this strategy (Department of Children and Youth Affairs, 2015: 1 and 33). Key UK research evidence measuring social return on youth sector initiatives indicates that youth social entrepreneurship initiatives have more than doubled the return on investment (NCSR, 2013).

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