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A Political Ecology of Youth and Crime


10 January 2013

This new book challenges current paradigms of research that focus on individual motivation as the rationale for 'criminal behaviour'.
This new book challenges current paradigms of research that focus on individual motivation as the rationale for 'criminal behaviour'.

A new way of thinking about youth crime that recognises young people live in an interrelated system of everyday worlds and social structures is the central premise of a new book co-authored by Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education) Derrick Armstrong.

A Political Ecology of Youth and Crime (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012) challenges dominant ideas about youth crime being a problem of individual behaviour, and is co-authored by Dr Dorothy Bottrell from the Faculty of Education and Social Work, University of Sydney, and Professor Alan France from the University of Auckland.

The book follows from Professor Armstrong's work as co-director of a research network in the United Kingdom that explores the experiences and perspectives of children and young people in relation to antisocial and criminal behaviour. It also results from co-author Bottrell's experience of and research into juvenile justice, youth and community work, and from Professor Alan France's writing, which has, for the past 20 years, focused on researching youth-related issues.

Political Ecology challenges current paradigms of research that focus on individual motivation as the rationale for "criminal behaviour". The book thus emerges from a critique of this narrow approach that is also advocated by developmental criminology, and argues for an analysis that recognises the important contribution young people themselves can make to the theorising and understanding of their relationship with crime.

Using the voices of a group of working class young people who are defined as "a social problem", the book's approach emphasises how criminal pathways are strongly influenced by the interactions embedded in social and political systems, and relationships.

Drawing upon the work of the social psychologist Urie Bronfenbrenner and sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, this book explores young people's "nested" and "political" ecological relationships with crime.

The Political Ecology of Youth and Crime examines the impacts of these relationships by looking at the important places and spaces in young people's lives; in their social relationships with peers and family members; and within formal institutional systems such as education, youth justice and social care.

This book makes an important contribution to understanding the relationship between youth and crime in the contexts of sociology, criminology, social psychology and education.


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