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Theoretical perspectives: early beginnings to present day
Feminist challenges to youth and trouble: focus on teenage pregnancy and crime
The academic literature on 'delinquent youth arises in part from official concern over young peoples activities outside direct adult supervision by parents, teachers or employers.
Griffin, C. (1993) Representations of Youth: The Study of
Adolescence in Britain and America, Cambridge: Polity
A set of concerns about the activities of young people and their supervision by
institutions or individuals representing the social order.
Johnston, L. (1993:96) The Modern Girl: Girlhood and Growing Up, Sydney: Allen & Unwin
Youth and trouble: theoretical perspectives
Blumers symbolic interactionism rests on three premises:
humans act towards things on the basis of meanings that the things have for them
the meaning of things is derived from, or arises out of, the social interaction that one has with ones fellows
these meanings are handled in and modified through an interpretative process used by the person in dealing with the things he encounters.
Hester & Eglin, 1992.
In relation to criminal behaviour, symbolic interactionists concentrate on processes of social interaction in which:
certain behaviour is prohibited by law, i.e. the process of crime definition through legislation
certain acts and persons become subject to law enforcement, i.e. the process of crime selection by the police
certain acts and persons become fitted with the label 'criminal i.e. the process of crime interpretation by the courts
criminal identity is developed, maintained and transformed (e.g.notion of careers).
Labelling theorists interpret deviance not as a set of characteristics of individuals or groups, but as a process of interaction between deviants and non-deviants.
Giddens, 1997: 178
Deviance is not the quality of the act a person commits but rather a consequence of the application by others of rules and sanctions to an offender. The deviant is one to whom that label has successfully been applied; deviant behaviour is behaviour that people so label.
Critique of labelling theory
Some acts are intrinsically wrong, such as murder.
There are differences e.g. people from a deprived background may shoplift more than rich people; although deviant behaviour may increase after conviction, there may be other prior explanations for this.
Labelling theory did not fully explain how what came to be seen as deviant was defined the questions whose definitions, whose interests and why were not explored.
Mainstream vs radical
The mainstream perspective is positivist, empiricist and conservative, presenting itself as an apolitical and objective project. It is characterized by the tendency to investigate young people as both the source and the victims of a series of 'social problems, adopting the victim-blaming thesis in the search for the cause(s) of specific phenomena. The radical perspective has been more likely to adopt structuralist and post-structuralist analyses, and to de-construct the association between young people and 'social problems, asking different questions and viewing research as part of a consciously political project
Feminist challenge to the sociology of youth
Teenage pregnancy: a social problem or not?
Crime and invisible girls
While we were doing the research I was asked hundreds of times what my research was about (as researchers usually are). Almost invariably the response to my explanation was in the nature of 'How awful! 'Poor/Silly girls! Or 'I bet you find some problems there! As the research neared its end I began to reply that actually te women and children were mostly doing fine, that lack of money was their major problem and that given their educational and family background it did not appear that their financial circumstances would necessarily have improved if they had deferred motherhood beyond their teenage years. Many people either simply did not believe me or added 'Yes, but caveats to my account. Other people were astonished that the stories 'young mothers might have to tell would not simply be full of doom and gloom
Phoenix, A. (1991:1) Young Mothers, Cambridge: Polity Press.
Reasons Phoenix asserts that there is a perception that young motherhood and poor outcomes for the child are linked:
Ambiguity of adolescents status.
Perceived to be most common among
groups which are seen to be
Reflects reality i.e. outcomes are
poor (Phoenix argues this is not the
Phoenix, A. (1991:1) Young Mothers, Cambridge: Polity Press.
Contribution of feminist critiques
Made girls and women visible.
Challenged theories which ... more
Find essay on Of Britain Ireland Itself Was
The City of Today
Glorious, glorious England. As the Empire spreads some say "so does its
glory"; others mumble of the price which we pay for our greatness. Many
of us Londoners have read, if not discussed, the intriguing debate
transpiring between Sir Andrew Ure and Sir James Phillips Kay. Are the
cities of great England truly representative of the jewels in Her
Majesty's Crown? Or are they the stain of exploitation and abuse that
some have proclaimed?
Sir James Phillips Kay, an M.D. at Edinburgh and the Secretary
to the Manchester Board of Health, has recently published a work titled,
"The Moral And Physical Conditions of the Working-Class Employed in
Cotton Manufacturing in Manchester." (Kay/Ure Debate, Handout) He
argues quite persuasively about those poor wretches living in the most
hideous of conditions. Half the blame he attributes to the Irish and
the other half to the environment of an industrialised city. The
Irish immigrants have brought to Manchester a system called "cottier
farming". Sir James argues that this system is responsible for the
"demoralisation and barbarism" of the working-class. If that is not bad
enough, the potato has been introduced as a main article of food.
Influenced by the Irish subsistence living, the working-class are
abandoning those values which promote increasing comfort. They
seemingly have given up the hope of betterment and adopted hopelessness.
Sir James does well in his description of the living conditions
of the working class is living in. The mere thought of such suffering
and misery is shocking to the soul.
The problem Kay argues, is caused by combinations of poor living
and working conditions, lack of education, influence by a lesser culture
and the presence of great immorality. This recently published work is
a plea to the Capitalist, to convince him to concern himself with his
("The City" continued) Vol.2
Andrew Mearns, another prominent fellow on these matters goes
into even greater detail in his work, "The Bitter Cry of Outcast
London". Making a study of our city, he has reported, with astonishing
detail, that the filth present in Manchester can be found in this city!
Mr. Mearns makes his argument to the church in his call to unite
and fight this growing misery together. He cites examples of
immorality, poverty and heart-breaking misery. His call also addresses
the need for the state to intervene on the behalf of the organisations
trying to elevate the working-classes' misery.
What can be done for the motherless children, diseased and
ailing siblings and the poor forced into thievery for filthy lucre?
Nothing! Yes, that is correct. We are to do nothing. Sir
Andrew Ure, an M.D., who teaches in the university at Glasgow is a
proponent of this controversial mind set. Traveling to these various
"terrible" places, Sir Andrew came to a completely different
First, the workers suffering is being greatly exaggerated. Upon
these "horror zones" (factories), both on announced and unannounced
visits, no such extremes were found. Instead of the finding the bleak
picture Sir James and Mr. Mearns painted, Ure found something quite the
opposite. Children play outside in playgrounds during their breaks, and
factories provide a safe haven for the children from the ill-use of
their bad parents.
Second, the terrible food situation is an exaggeration as well.
The amount of food given to the factory workers is sufficient. It is
comparable, if not surpassing to that food consumed in the rural
communities from where the working class came from.
What is to be the conclusion of this bitter argument? one thing
is certain, the Kay/Ure debate will continue with us as long as we have
factories with a working class. This much can be assured.
19th Century Evangelical Christianity In England
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in
the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Religion was an important facet of the British Victorian
society. It molded public opinion, dictated morals and values, and
created social divisions. The dominant religion of the middle-class
during this time was Evangelical Christianity. This essay will discuss
the relationship between Evangelicalism and the middle-class. It will
also argue how Evangelicalism affected the attitudes towards different ... more
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