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Feeling Safe, Defining Crime and Urban Youth in Berlin’s Inner City: An Exploration of the Construction of ‘Unsafety’ and ‘Youth’ as Symbolic Violence

  • Talja BloklandEmail author
  • Vojin Šerbedžija
Chapter

Abstract

Urban security policies tend to focus on prevention or crime’s relation to safety. Crime prevention literature often suggests the importance of urban design for social control. Generally the belief is strong that control and interventions, of public or state, will reduce crime and enhance security. Yet correlations between crime rates and experienced safety are weak at best. Others emphasize the importance of governance of crime and behaviour defined as undesirable, or argue that the welfare state becomes a penal state, containing the marginalized through policing. Less common are studies of the positionality of those often hold publically responsible for crime: male urban youth in inner cities. While some of their criminalized behaviour acquires high visibility, their positions and perspectives remain invisible. How crime prevention, definitions of crime and safety and urban insecurity are experienced in the daily practices of urban youth in two estates in Berlin, Germany is the empirical focus for our attempt to theorize ‘unsafety’ discourse as symbolic violence.

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank Julia Thöns from Bezirksamt Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg and all advisors for cooperation, Landeskommission Berlin gegen Gewalt for funding, Lara Danyel and Julia Nott for research assistance, and all experts in the field for their generous participation, especially Die Jungs. All names are pseudonyms. All research participants at the youth clubs and in interviews gave consent to participate; casual conversations in the streets, incidentally included youth who did not know, due to the nature of fieldwork in such a setting.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Humboldt-Universität zu BerlinBerlinGermany

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