Beginning with the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, the UK government’s ‘Anti-social Behaviour Agenda’ has served to label all young people as potentially anti-social. This study describes and analyses young people’s accounts of anti-social behaviour and the impact of anti-social behaviour legislation on young people living in a rural context. Through semi-structured interviews with eighteen teenagers in a rural northern town who had undertaken anti-social behaviour but were not subject to any individual control measures, the research explores the participants’ perceptions of their (informal) identification as anti-social, their interactions with institutions of social control and how these factors impacted on their sense of self. In particular, it explores the strategies that the respondents utilised to avoid internalising a deviant identity and through doing so examines the relationship between anti-social behaviour and youth as a transition. Whilst none of the respondents considered themselves to be anti-social, they had all been subject to informal control measures including being ‘moved on’ and having their details taken by the police. The findings indicate that for these young people, anti-social behaviour is inexorably tied to their liminal position as ‘youths’ and this allows their identities to be fluid and constantly changing. The respondents understand their social position/s as ‘in-between’ a variety of statuses, and it is postulated that the widely acknowledged vague nature of ASB definition and their identities as ‘youths’ allows them to negotiate the space between a pro- and anti-social identity without internalising either. They therefore construct anti-social behaviour as a normal part of conventional youth, and something which they will certainly ‘grow out of’.
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Reference : Armitage, V. J. (2012). The Inbetweeners: Young people making sense of youth anti-social behaviour. Doctoral thesis, Durham: Durham University.Available from: http://etheses.dur.ac.uk/3581/
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