‘You Have to do it for Yourself’: Responsibilization in Youth Justice and Young People’s Situated Knowledge of Youth Justice Practice

Phoenix, Jo and Kelly, Laura (2013). ‘You Have to do it for Yourself’: Responsibilization in Youth Justice and Young People’s Situated Knowledge of Youth Justice Practice. British Journal of Criminology, 53(3) pp. 419–437.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/bjc/azs078

Abstract

Drawing on governmentality theories, accounts of the responsibilizing effects of policy and practice have dominated recent studies of youth justice in England and Wales. This article develops this debate by asking: what can it mean to claim that young offenders are responsibilized by contemporary modes of governing youth offending? An exposition of the dominant ways in which ‘responsibilization’ is conceptualized highlights the theoretical foreclosures that, within such frameworks, make the subjective experiences of young offenders ‘unknowable’. We suggest that an empirical analysis of young people’s situated knowledge helps elucidate what responsibilization could mean in relation to young offenders: that they came to know there was no one else to help them change their lives.

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