The Call to Order: Families, Responsibility and Juvenile Crime Control

By Hil, Richard | Journal of Australian Studies, December 1998 | Go to article overview

The Call to Order: Families, Responsibility and Juvenile Crime Control


Hil, Richard, Journal of Australian Studies


The family has come to occupy the centre ground of social policy discourse in a number of western states. Its discursive elevation has occurred against the background of growing `public concern' over the apparently precarious state of this major social institution. In Australia, the 1994 `International Year of the Family' appeared to encapsulate a wide range of issues and concerns relating to the state of the `modern family'.(1) Both major federal parties openly declared their commitment to push family-related issues to the top of the social policy agenda. Extensive and often heated public discussions have already taken place in relation to child care provision, the divorce rate, sole parent households, family welfare and taxation.(2) The emphasis given to the family has been such that the headline of a newspaper feature article referred to this as `The Issue of the 1990s'.(3)

This article explores the ways in which various strands of current public discourse on families and `family responsibility' have found expression in the area of juvenile crime control. It is argued that juvenile justice policy and practice reflect a tendency on the part of the state to locate the origins of crime and delinquency squarely in the context of the `failing family'.(4) From this standpoint it is the family, through the actions of its individual members and in its apparent failure to exercise effective care and control that is supposedly responsible for the growth of juvenile crime over recent years.(5) Such assertions have arisen in tandem with a generally negative perception of the changing composition of the family in contemporary western societies. In order to illustrate this argument the article focuses on a range of initiatives in the Australian juvenile justice system, including parental restitution and compensation, `crime prevention', family group conferences, community panels and curfews. It is maintained that such family-oriented measures compliment a range of contemporary discourses and practices that support the idea of greater `autonomy' in family affairs.(6)

Before examining the notion of `responsibility' in key areas of Australian juvenile justice, it is necessary to reflect briefly on the ideological centrality of the `traditional family' in recent public discourse. Indeed, the emphasis given to family responsibility in various spheres of social policy (including that of juvenile justice) needs to be understood in relation to the continued ideological dominance of the `traditional family' and the apparent assaults upon it from within (through the apparent erosion of discipline and order) and without (through economic hardship and `social decline'). In the popular historiography of this institution the nuclear family is often promoted as the idealised institution of tradition in which the genderised roles of its members are clearly set out according to the imperatives of the `natural' social order. Such assumptions have, at least in part, underscored public deliberations on `the state of the modern family' and have led to specific proposals aimed at `strengthening' this social institution. (One of the implicit arguments in this article is that while many of the assumptions associated with the traditional family are rarely stated explicitly in juvenile justice discourse they have nonetheless given impetus to the development of family-based measures. The family is thus seen increasingly as the `natural' and `proper' site of crime control, as well as the target for punitive actions when things go wrong).

Although the family has over recent decades undergone profound and lasting changes in terms of form and structure -- to the extent that it makes more sense to refer to `families' rather than the `the family' -- this has not prevented the nuclear family from presiding as the dominant ideological representation of tradition and stability.(7) The `nuclear', `bourgeois' or `closed domesticated' nuclear family has a long history and its origins may be located in the early nineteenth century when the particular social and economic demands of nascent industrial capitalism gave rise to the private domains of domestic patriarchal units. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Call to Order: Families, Responsibility and Juvenile Crime Control
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.