Violent Night: Urban Leisure and Contemporary Culture

Violent Night: Urban Leisure and Contemporary Culture

Violent Night: Urban Leisure and Contemporary Culture

Violent Night: Urban Leisure and Contemporary Culture

Synopsis

Current public policy has patently failed to keep on top of the new trends in both consumption and destruction which make urban centers dangerous and crime-ridden areas. Presenting an original approach, Violent Night uses powerful insider accounts to uncover the underlying causes of both sanctioned, professional male violence and criminal acts. Interviews with the police, private security personnel, gangsters and the victims of violence reveal the complex emotions that surround both the perpetration and resolution of crime. The authors show that a new approach is needed to successfully rehabilitate a culture struggling and failing to deal with escalating violent crime.

Excerpt

This study of youth identities, consumerism and violence developed from our earlier work on masculinities, the night-time economy and the fragmenting nature of Britain's working class (Hall, 1997, 1999, 2002; Winlow, 2001; Winlow et al., 2003; Hall and Winlow, 2003, 2004, 2005). Although our backgrounds are in criminology, our primary aim has always been to investigate the fortunes of the fragments of the former industrial working class as they attempt to cope with the shifting demands of the advanced capitalist economy. As our research progressed from the mid-1990s, we became rather dissatisfied with the celebratory nature of some of the more popular sociological theories that were attempting to chart the fate of young people in the epochal shift from industrial capitalism to consumer capitalism. Some of this work tended to retreat into romanticism, positing young people's destructive acts as reactions to oppression or indications of an underlying tendency for resistance to dominant political authorities. The compulsion to avoid moral judgments and appreciate diverse meanings appeared to pressure many researchers to gloss over the serious problems that are besetting young people anxiety, drugs, violence, suicide, loss of traditional forms of identity, consumer pressure and so on – or explain them away as temporary phenomena that would melt away as young people settled into the new order. The reactionary discontent of conservative declinism seemed even less satisfactory, so we began this project with the vague aim of taking an empirical 'look for ourselves', producing some penetrative ethnographic data and using this work to assess some of the prevailing theories that attempt to illuminate current ways in which young people are constructing their identities, locating themselves in the changing economy and social structure, and generally making sense of their lives.

Much has been written recently about the changing nature of youth transitions (Coles, 1995; Furlong and Cartmel, 1997) and the influence of consumerism upon youth identities (Miles, 1996, 1998; Mackay, 1997), but we found that since the early 1980s the economic processes in which identity is constituted and reproduced have, at best, been taken for granted or, at worst, neglected. From the inception of our research the incoming data about young people's experiences and perceptions seemed to suggest a tight, direct connection between the consumer economy and the individual, virtually demanding that a challenge should be made . . .

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