Battle Front: An estate based analysis of the impact of professionalism on the ability to provide localised neighbourhood based social controls

Alexander, James Gregory. 2018. Battle Front: An estate based analysis of the impact of professionalism on the ability to provide localised neighbourhood based social controls. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis is the culmination of nearly four years’ worth of ethnographic research on a south London housing estate which discusses a complex battle for control on many fronts. The estate has always had a chequered reputation. Squatting, petty crime and anti social behaviour meant that during the 80 and early 90s it was on the council’s hard to let list. Accounts from the estate suggest that historically a network of committed residents had led action to keep the deviant side of the estate under control. However, over time, local commitment waned, resident friendship networks shrank and the criminal behaviour started to become more serious.

Some more recent high profile violent incidents involving young people meant the council looked to provide added support in the form of commissioning professional services to address the perceived increase in serious youth crime. Unfortunately, these interventions largely disempowered residents, who saw the embers of their relational ways of working criticised and ignored. Previous resident run youth projects attempted to develop relationships with the young people and their families, aiming to develop social controls based on intergenerational obligations. However, very few residents were committed enough to spend their own personal time to support young people, and those who were still engaged saw their influence decreasing. By contrast, the commissioned services ran for only a couple of hours a day and attracted young people from further afield than just the estate.

However, despite its popularity with young people, the professional youth delivery failed to improve the situation and was accused of making matters worse. The introduction of professionals made the residents take a step back, ending a long established norm of residents working together to tackle youth deviance through informal friendship building activities. This, coupled with the increase in young people on the estate, meant that it has become almost impossible for informal networks to develop social control mechanisms. The generational disconnect, amplified by the arrival of professional help, contributed to the development of a street based culture among the young people. This is as much an account of the battles between the residents and professionals, to prove the legitimacy of their differing approaches, as it is a battle against the increasingly deviant behaviour of particular groups of young people.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):

https://doi.org/10.25602/GOLD.00025903

Keywords:

Youth, Crime, Inner City, Bourdieu, Professionalism

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Sociology

Date:

31 October 2018

Item ID:

25903

Date Deposited:

26 Feb 2019 12:34

Last Modified:

12 Jun 2021 20:52

URI:

https://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/25903

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