1st Edition

Negotiating Class in Youth Justice Professional Practice and Interactions

By Jasmina Arnež Copyright 2023
    272 Pages
    by Routledge

    272 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book examines how class shapes interactions between professionals, parents, and young people in the youth justice system, utilising a mix of contemporary social theory and a wealth of empirical material. It suggests ways to neutralise the effects of class on youth justice interventions in structurally unequal societies and argues for reform based on conceptions of negotiated justice, relational agency, and autonomy in dependence.

    The author develops a theoretical framework to explore how class is negotiated within youth justice, taking as its starting point the work of Bourdieu on habitus, Boltanski and Thévenot on the sociology of lay normativity, and Sayer’s work on moral understandings of class. This is combined with a detailed reading of empirical material gathered through focus groups, interviews with practitioners, parents and children, and participant observation of parenting courses. The result is an innovative revisiting of the part that social class plays in determining who is diverted into and away from youth justice and a sustained theoretical and empirical argument for the continued importance of class in criminological research.

    This book offers an original contribution to the fields of criminology, youth justice, and crime and the family. It provides an important source of knowledge for academics and practitioners interested in discussions on social class and indirect discrimination.

    Contents: 1. Introduction; 2. Youth offending, parenting, and class; 3: The impact of class on professional interactions; 4. Determined by class? Differences in professional responses to children’s behaviour and parenting; 5. Negotiated based on class? Similarities in professional responses to children’s behaviour and parenting; 6. The origins of classed distortions in professional interactions; 7. The exacerbation of classed distortions in professional interactions: 8. Youth justice, class, and institutional constraints; 9. Conclusion: Towards a class-sensitive youth justice


    Jasmina Arnež is a research associate at the Centre for Criminology, University of Oxford, and a research fellow at the Institute for Criminology, University of Ljubljana. Her research interests relate to youth justice, crime and the family, inequality, and alternative responses to youth offending.

    ‘Both coup de gras and tour de force, this book is a serious scholarly intervention that signals a real new talent. Written with an insider's eye and an outsider's edge, it combines flinty analytical depth with stellar theoretical reach – to Bourdieu and beyond. Buy it, read it, cite it: and watch this space.’ 

    Alistair Fraser, Senior Lecturer in Criminology and Sociology, University of Glasgow

    ‘In this important and timely study, Jasmina Arnež makes the case for reinserting class analysis into the study of youthful conduct and youth justice. Based on original in-depth empirical research, Arnež argues that we need to radically rethink our approaches to intervention, not only by reconfiguring professional practice but also by paying much greater attention to lay perspectives. Her provocations offer a timely challenge to practitioners and academics alike.’

    Tim Newburn, Professor of Criminology and Social Policy, London School of Economics

    ‘A compelling and insightful analysis of the continuing role of class in shaping the response of official agencies to troubled youth, and a powerful corrective to entrenched approaches to youth intervention that leave social class out of the picture. Jasmina Arnež’s analysis is grounded in rich qualitative research among youth, parents, and practitioners in England, but has clear relevance for the practice of youth justice around the world.’

    Elliott Currie, Professor of Criminology, Law and Society, University of California, Irvine, USA