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Durham e-Theses
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Governing the Nomadic Children of the ‘Dangerous Classes’: A Genealogy of Youth Justice analysed through the Developmental Prism of the Youth Rehabilitation Order

COYLES, WILLIAM,ANDREW (2012) Governing the Nomadic Children of the ‘Dangerous Classes’: A Genealogy of Youth Justice analysed through the Developmental Prism of the Youth Rehabilitation Order. Masters thesis, Durham University.



This thesis performs a Foucauldian genealogy of youth justice, situating the generic community based sentence of the Youth Rehabilitation Order (YRO) - introduced in 2008 - at the frontier of an emasculating developmental trajectory which has informed youth justice policy and practice since the foundation of the juvenile court. It is argued that the YRO’s ‘governmentalisation’ (Foucault, 2007) of youth justice – its movement of sentencing determination and oversight from the judiciary to the executive - enabling the ‘young offender’ to be governed within a complex of managerial and administrative apparatuses with reference to bio-political ‘norms’ – has engendered the formation of a paradigm of governance which obfuscates the distinction between executive and judicial powers. It is expounded that this may serve to create administrative ‘petty sovereigns’ (Oksala, 2007) largely unhindered by judicial restraints, potentially exposing the ‘young offender’ to exceptional sovereign violence i.e., violence which is direct, arbitrary and subject to severely weakened judicial regulation (Oksala, 2010: 42). The genealogy, analysed through the developmental prism of the nine community based sentences which the YRO replaces, traces the ‘governmentalisation’ of youth justice, illustrating how this obfuscatory paradigm of governance is programmed within its hybrid ‘penal-welfare’ evolution. The thesis illustrates that at the apotheosis of the ‘welfare-era’ in the late 1960s and early 1970s a youth justice strategy of ‘familial enclosure’ – aiming to immobilise the working class child - delimited the exercise of exceptional sovereign violence to within the walls of the nuclear family. It is shown that the disintegration of the ‘underclass’ familial enclosure in an advanced-liberal Britain has rendered this governmental strategy of ‘sedentarisation’ untenable. The belief is promulgated that the YRO, which provides a nomadic form of electronic surveillance and control, is a technology of replacement for this disintegrating enclosure, introduced by a managerial Youth Justice Board in response to the return of the nomadic children of the ‘dangerous classes’ (Lea, 1997). The genealogy suggests that the YRO may facilitate the diffusion of exceptional sovereign violence throughout the ‘social’, exercised at-a-distance upon a nomadic population of ‘underclass children’. It is also asserted that the YRO’s amalgamation of the ‘child in need’ and the ‘young offender’ is indicative of a wider process of ‘net-widening’ and ‘mesh thinning’ (Cohen, 1985) in which the ‘child in need’ is being captured within the penal net. A ‘de-governmentalisation’ of youth justice through a return to the ‘justice-model’ of youth justice policy and practice is proposed as a remedy to these issues. This, it will be espoused, will de-obfuscate executive and judicial powers and reign in administrative ‘petty sovereigns’ by subjecting them to effective judicial controls, preventing the ‘underclass child’s’ exposure to exceptional sovereign violence. The potential for the offence-centric ‘justice-model’ to restrict the orbit of the youth justice system will also be explored.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Jurisprudence
Keywords:Youth justice; youth rehabilitation order; child in need; young offenders; bio-politics; exceptional sovereign violence; nomadism; Foucault; law; criminology.
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Law, Department of
Thesis Date:2012
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:30 Mar 2012 16:12

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