In this chapter we build upon the previous discussion concentrating on how ‘being criminal’ exists in the social ecology of everyday life for young people in ‘high-crime’ and ‘deprived’ places and spaces. We show how the distinctions between ‘criminal’ and ‘non-criminal’, holds little analytical value and how ‘criminal careers’ and ‘pathways’ are refuted and rejected by the stories of young people. Crime is not a lifestyle choice or a matter of simple irrational decision-making or immoral choices but a part of the complexity of everyday life. Terms such as ‘illegal’, ‘legal’ and ‘criminal’ are contested, in flux, and need to be contextualised and situated as they are embedded with meanings that are, in many cases, culturally specific to the young. What it means to ‘be criminal’ needs to be located and understood in the context of ‘survival’, ‘resilience’, ‘fun’, ‘pleasure’ and ‘risk-taking’ yet these are not how those who have power to define behaviour or respond to it understand the actions of the young. As we shall see in the second part of our discussion, being defined as ‘criminal’ or a ‘problem’ and being brought into the ‘field’ of youth justice has other consequences and outcomes on the lives of young people.
KeywordsYoung People Justice System Police Officer Cultural Capital Social Ecology
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