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Perspectives on 'new' migrants in youth justice : constitutions, circularity and effects of institutional discourses on Roma and Caucasian youth

Olga Petintseva (UGent)
(2016)
Author
Promoter
(UGent)
Organization
Abstract
This dissertation addresses institutional discourse production with regard to young people with a migration background, in the context of youth justice. In the practice of this institutional sphere, being ‘new,’ ethnicity, migration, culture, and legal positions are influential for how cases are understood and proceeded with. Youth justice is a fascinating context for such a study, for it is characterised by a large discretionary space, the ‘best interests’ doctrine and constant negotiations between protecting, responsibilising and sanctioning. All of this makes this practice more social (i.e. driven by human understandings), rather than a mere mechanical application of laws. This empirical research is based on a critical discursive (problematisation) analysis (Bacchi, 2009) of documents in youth court case files and youth justice professionals’ oral narratives (obtained through interviews with magistrates, social workers, intercultural mediators, various professionals working in Community institutions and practitioners involved in the execution of alternative measures). It delves into how the seemingly unrelated and rarely problematised juxtaposition of youth justice–migration is practiced and articulated by youth justice practitioners. These understandings often rest on assumptions about class, (ethnic) culture, ‘good’ behaviour and morality, the adolescent’s role within the family, family structures, ‘meaningful’ time expenditure, sedentary life style, etc. Such problematisations are to some extent based on experiences encountered in practice, but they also rely on popular imagery and expectations (i.e. specific stories, examples, faces vs. generalisations and convictions). The dissertation focuses on two case studies: youth born in the Northern Caucasus and Slovak and Czech Roma (selecting cases that were referred to the youth judge in two legal departments in Belgium). For these cases, I address the professionals’ folk theorisations of the causes and modalities of delinquent behaviour; the assessments of a young person’s responsibility and maturity; her/his milieu (mainly in terms of family and school situation) and the role of the legal (residence) status. The results show that 'migrationised,' 'ethnicisised' and 'culturalised' positioning of young people is prominent and that it heavilly relies on protection discourse (albeit involving very different definitions of protection). Moreover, understandings of culture, ethnicity and migration are often essentialised (particulalry for Roma youth, who are positioned quite differently from Caucasian youngsters), sanitised, and masked by practical reasoning. In conclusion, I raise the discussion of whether such understandings of the ‘other’ are necessarily discriminatory. More broadly, this research speaks to discussions about interactions and expectations in institutional contexts and common sense discriminatory or otherwise harmful practices therein. Additionally, the report opens a debate on understandings of ‘protection’ and on the need for targeted approaches to migrant youth in the judicial context.

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Citation

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MLA
Petintseva, Olga. “Perspectives on ‘New’ Migrants in Youth Justice : Constitutions, Circularity and Effects of Institutional Discourses on Roma and Caucasian Youth.” 2016 : n. pag. Print.
APA
Petintseva, O. (2016). Perspectives on “new” migrants in youth justice : constitutions, circularity and effects of institutional discourses on Roma and Caucasian youth. Ghent University. Faculty of Law, Ghent, Belgium.
Chicago author-date
Petintseva, Olga. 2016. “Perspectives on ‘New’ Migrants in Youth Justice : Constitutions, Circularity and Effects of Institutional Discourses on Roma and Caucasian Youth”. Ghent, Belgium: Ghent University. Faculty of Law.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Petintseva, Olga. 2016. “Perspectives on ‘New’ Migrants in Youth Justice : Constitutions, Circularity and Effects of Institutional Discourses on Roma and Caucasian Youth”. Ghent, Belgium: Ghent University. Faculty of Law.
Vancouver
1.
Petintseva O. Perspectives on “new” migrants in youth justice : constitutions, circularity and effects of institutional discourses on Roma and Caucasian youth. [Ghent, Belgium]: Ghent University. Faculty of Law; 2016.
IEEE
[1]
O. Petintseva, “Perspectives on ‘new’ migrants in youth justice : constitutions, circularity and effects of institutional discourses on Roma and Caucasian youth,” Ghent University. Faculty of Law, Ghent, Belgium, 2016.
@phdthesis{8121683,
  abstract     = {{This dissertation addresses institutional discourse production with regard to young people with a migration background, in the context of youth justice. In the practice of this institutional sphere, being ‘new,’ ethnicity, migration, culture, and legal positions are influential for how cases are understood and proceeded with. Youth justice is a fascinating context for such a study, for it is characterised by a large discretionary space, the ‘best interests’ doctrine and constant negotiations between protecting, responsibilising and sanctioning. All of this makes this practice more social (i.e. driven by human understandings), rather than a mere mechanical application of laws. This empirical research is based on a critical discursive (problematisation) analysis (Bacchi, 2009) of documents in youth court case files and youth justice professionals’ oral narratives (obtained through interviews with magistrates, social workers, intercultural mediators, various professionals working in Community institutions and practitioners involved in the execution of alternative measures). It delves into how the seemingly unrelated and rarely problematised juxtaposition of youth justice–migration is practiced and articulated by youth justice practitioners. These understandings often rest on assumptions about class, (ethnic) culture, ‘good’ behaviour and morality, the adolescent’s role within the family, family structures, ‘meaningful’ time expenditure, sedentary life style, etc. Such problematisations are to some extent based on experiences encountered in practice, but they also rely on popular imagery and expectations (i.e. specific stories, examples, faces vs. generalisations and convictions). The dissertation focuses on two case studies: youth born in the Northern Caucasus and Slovak and Czech Roma (selecting cases that were referred to the youth judge in two legal departments in Belgium). For these cases, I address the professionals’ folk theorisations of the causes and modalities of delinquent behaviour; the assessments of a young person’s responsibility and maturity; her/his milieu (mainly in terms of family and school situation) and the role of the legal (residence) status. The results show that 'migrationised,' 'ethnicisised' and 'culturalised' positioning of young people is prominent and that it heavilly relies on protection discourse (albeit involving very different definitions of protection). Moreover, understandings of culture, ethnicity and migration are often essentialised (particulalry for Roma youth, who are positioned quite differently from Caucasian youngsters), sanitised, and masked by practical reasoning. In conclusion, I raise the discussion of whether such understandings of the ‘other’ are necessarily discriminatory. More broadly, this research speaks to discussions about interactions and expectations in institutional contexts and common sense discriminatory or otherwise harmful practices therein. Additionally, the report opens a debate on understandings of ‘protection’ and on the need for targeted approaches to migrant youth in the judicial context.}},
  author       = {{Petintseva, Olga}},
  language     = {{eng}},
  pages        = {{VIII, 316}},
  publisher    = {{Ghent University. Faculty of Law}},
  school       = {{Ghent University}},
  title        = {{Perspectives on 'new' migrants in youth justice : constitutions, circularity and effects of institutional discourses on Roma and Caucasian youth}},
  year         = {{2016}},
}