Youth Crime and Youth Culture in the Inner City

By Bill Sanders | Go to book overview

8

The moral universes of young people who have offended

This book has explored what might be thought of as the 'moral universes' of a small sample of young people in the London borough of Lambeth in terms of how offending fitted in to their lives. 'Moral universe' here refers to a worldview, a viewpoint, the way someone sees things, or, in more sociological terms, a set of normative judgements. So what exactly has been learned about the young people's offending, and what has been learned about 'young offenders' in the borough? In this chapter I attempt to address these questions. First, I review the fine distinctions young people made (or were still making) about their offending behaviour. Next, I examine what the young people said about offending in the future, and explore how they viewed legitimate, 'conventional' employment. Then, I talk about what my data are able to say (and not able to say) about young people who have offended in Lambeth more generally.

The latter half of the chapter addresses the theoretical implications of my data. Here, I bring up the questions that prompted this research: What do we know about young people who offend in the inner city? What does this behaviour mean to them? How does it fit in with their lives? To begin, I address some major theories of crime and delinquency in order to assess their utility in adequately explaining or capturing the young people's offending behaviour. This discussion is not aimed at testing or proving any one criminological theory, nor at offering an exhaustive review of them, but rather to see how (and if) some of the more general ones 'fit' with my findings. From here, I offer my own theoretical views.


Observing the code: young people's normative judgements about crime

So what has been learned about these young people? What I attempted to illustrate in each of the chapters that directly discussed the different classifications of offences they committed is that all of them, including those who committed (or were still committing) relatively serious offences, all made (or were still making) normative judgements related to their acquisitive, expressive, violent and/or drug-related offences. Findings indicate that these young people were only willing to commit certain offences against particular individuals or targets to limited degrees or levels of severity. Throughout the courses of these illegal behaviours, the young people

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Youth Crime and Youth Culture in the Inner City
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Figures viii
  • Tables ix
  • Acknowledgements x
  • Preface xi
  • Introduction xiii
  • 1 - Research in the Inner City 1
  • 2 - Lambeth 27
  • 3 - Robbery, Burglary, Theft 47
  • 4 - Drug Use and Drug Selling 77
  • 5 - Graffiti, Joyriding, Vandalism 94
  • 6 - Violence 116
  • 7 - Style, Group Behaviour, Interactions with the Police 135
  • 8 - The Moral Universes of Young People Who Have Offended 168
  • 9 - What is to Be Done About Crime and Delinquency in Lambeth? 195
  • Notes 205
  • References 215
  • Index 225
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