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Closing the ‘security gap': Young people, ‘street life’ and knife crime

Traynor, Peter Robert (2016) Closing the ‘security gap': Young people, ‘street life’ and knife crime. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

This thesis explores the social meanings applied to the carrying and use of knives as a weapon, by young people living in areas with high rates of knife crime and violence. The thesis situates data, generated through interviews and focus groups, within a theoretical framework based around the concept of ‘street life’, as a place in which young people, often in groups, draw on street codes as a response to the extant violence and a ‘security gap’ in their neighbourhoods. This ‘gap’ was experienced to a greater or lesser extent by most of the young people who took part in the research, and was bound up in ongoing ‘integrational difficulties’ experienced in adolescence, and exacerbated by experiences of deprivation and marginality. Some participants responded to violence by adhering to a street code that exposed them to violence, and, reproduced the violence they sought to confront. Non-offending young people were able to draw on a ‘civic code’ as a means of sustaining collective resilience. Social integration is shown to provide a crucial form of resilience for participants. In the absence of sources of collective resilience, the knife represented for many participants a proxy form of resilience. Participants were sometimes able to cultivate more effective forms of integration and social resilience as they disengaged with ‘street life’ and, as a consequence, the knife as a source of protection became increasingly redundant. In this sense, the thesis is about how young people create and sustain identities, integration and resilience in difficult circumstances, and the sometimes-misguided ways in which they seek to do this. Thus, the thesis adds novel empirical and conceptual findings to normative and subcultural understandings, not just of knife carrying but of gangs, and other collective responses to violence.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Knife crime, carrying knives, violence, youth, young people, street culture, resilience, identity, integration
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law (Leeds) > School of Law (Leeds)
The University of Leeds > Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law (Leeds) > School of Law (Leeds) > Centre for Criminal Justice Studies (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.707054
Depositing User: Dr Peter Traynor
Date Deposited: 27 Mar 2017 13:12
Last Modified: 25 Jul 2018 09:54
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/16687

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