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“Are we all playing an elaborate game?” A Bourdieusian analysis of children’s participation in decision making in youth justice

Creaney, S (2020) “Are we all playing an elaborate game?” A Bourdieusian analysis of children’s participation in decision making in youth justice. Doctoral thesis, Liverpool John Moores University.

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There has been a lack of empirical research on children’s involvement in the design and delivery of youth offending services. This PhD investigates the extent and nature of children’s participation in planning, decision making and assessment in youth justice. It seeks to reveal the ‘logic’ and unmask the ‘hidden workings’ of participatory youth justice practice. The PhD involved 15 months of fieldwork, undertaken between 2016-2017 at a youth offending service in England. This involved participant observations and semi-structured interviews with children and young people (n=20) and professionals (n=20). Pierre Bourdieu’s analytical tools: habitus, capital, field and symbolic violence, were utilised to investigate the attitudes and behaviours of practitioners and those under supervision. This original and distinctive study produced new knowledge, uncovering both inclusive and exclusive aspects of practice that either facilitated or foreclosed children’s participation. Opportunities provided to young people to have a say and influence practice were strikingly unequal at the practice level. Involvement in shaping decision making and influencing processes was ostensibly reserved for the non-high risk, especially the ready to conform or those with seemingly malleable personality types. The study found that several young people were seeking to exert minimal energy in order to achieve a type of passive compliance with court order requirements. Professionals were concerned that they were also participating in this type of ‘game playing’. The PhD reveals insight into why agents may not contest the status quo despite experiencing hardship. The PhD presents cogent arguments for involving children more centrally in decision making, unlocking their potential and reversing a system that has traditionally ‘designed out’ opportunities for them to provide a perspective on their care/supervision or devalued the credibility/validity of their experiential knowledge. Peer mentoring was found to be a liberating and enlightening type of practice. Whilst not necessarily denouncing the adult professional voice and perspective, children and young people can be ‘experts by experience’.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Bourdieusian analysis; children’s participation; decision making; youth justice; peer mentoring
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
K Law > K Law (General)
Divisions: Justice Studies (from Sep 19)
Date Deposited: 24 Mar 2020 09:09
Last Modified: 21 Dec 2022 11:50
DOI or ID number: 10.24377/LJMU.t.00012553
Supervisors: Jamieson, J, Tickle, S and Yates, J
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/12553
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