Utopian youth justice?

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Porteous, D. 2014. Utopian youth justice?
TitleUtopian youth justice?
AuthorsPorteous, D.
Abstract

This Context Statement constitutes Part One of a two-part submission towards a PhD by Public Works, Part Two consisting of nine publications in the area of youth crime and youth justice. As these various works were written for distinct purposes and focused on a more diverse group of subjects than would be the case for a conventional PhD, the Context Statement aims to ‘glue’ them together by situating them within a broader political and theoretical context. It also seeks to provide firmer intellectual foundations than was evident in the original works, by reviewing in detail relevant literature, outlining the methods adopted in the studies, subjecting each publication to systematic critique and reflecting on my own development as a researcher. Finally, the Context Statement defines what I consider to be the significant contribution to contemporary analyses of youth justice policy that the public works represent.
The Context Statement is organised into five chapters. Chapter 1 introduces the Statement with a short account of how the publications came to be written and of my growing awareness of the need to give the applied work I was doing a more critical edge. Chapter 2 outlines the academic context for the research, reviewing the literature around four broad themes: the victimisation of children and young people; the relationship between schools, school exclusion and youth crime; the links between social exclusion and crime; and the preventative turn in youth Justice policy from the late 1990s. Chapter 3 reflects on the nature, scope and limitations of applied social research and considers different approaches that may fall under this heading, with consideration to their political and theoretical implications. Against this backdrop, it then describes and evaluates the range of methods employed in the studies on which the public works were based. Chapter 4 critically reviews each of the public works in turn, considering their focus, validity, impact and significance, and identifies the continuities between them as well as emergent themes. Chapter 5 concludes by re-situating the key findings from the works within the broader policy and theoretical context outlined in the literature review and demonstrating why, collectively, these public works constitute an original and coherent contribution to knowledge.
The public works submitted towards this PhD straddle the semi-connected worlds of youth crime and youth justice. They contribute to a growing appreciation of the victimisation of children amongst criminologists and others, emphasising that victimisation and offending correlate less because of the characteristics of the individuals and families involved than because of the restricting circumstances characteristic of late modern capitalist societies. The analysis of preventative strategies, in particular mentoring, whilst revealing examples of success and plausible explanations for this, also questions the extent to which such ‘solutions’ to the crime problem can ‘work’, given that they are predominantly geared towards changing individuals and so can have little bearing on the disadvantageous social and economic circumstances these individuals face. This said, utopianism may not be the worst thing in an uncertain world.

Publication dates
Print22 Apr 2015
Publication process dates
Deposited22 Apr 2015
CompletedJan 2014
Output statusPublished
LanguageEnglish
TypeOther
Doctorate by public works thesis
Institution nameMiddlesex University
Department nameCriminology & Sociology
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