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Title: ‘On road’ culture in context: masculinities, religion, and ‘trapping’ in inner city London
Authors: Reid, Ebony
Advisors: Bradford, S
Alldred, P
Cullen, F
Keywords: Gangs;Youth violence;Street violence;Criminality/Ethnography;Youth crime and violence
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: Brunel University London
Abstract: The gang has been a focal concern in UK media, political discourse, policy, and policing interventions in the last decade, occupying the position of contemporary ‘folk devil’. Despite the heightened attention on urban ‘gang culture’, sociological research on gangs in the UK is limited. However, some sociologists do stress a deterministic relationship between gangs and black urban youth, rendering urban men a source of fascination and repulsion, easy scapegoats in explaining street violence. Arguably, current work that privileges the idea of gang membership misunderstands much about the lives of some men involved. This thesis contributes to correcting that misunderstanding. The study adopts a social constructionist perspective in understanding the (multiple) ways urban men in an inner city area of London construct their lives when immersed in what they refer to as being ‘on road’, a symbolic space in which everyday lives are played out. As a broadly ethnographic study, the data for the thesis were generated using participant observation and semi-structured interviews with a range of participants, including young and adult men. The study identifies three distinct ways in which some men become trapped in difficult experiences and identities ‘on road’. It focuses on the implications of the notion of ‘trappedness’ on their experiences in public space, employment opportunities and, self- identity. The ‘on road’ lives of the men in the study represent a paradox: the road appears to offer opportunity to build masculine identity but entangles them further in a trap, restricting freedom and stunting personal growth. This study has significance for sociological theory. Theoretically, the idea of being ‘on road’ can be understood as a discourse that persists in the language and symbolism that flows through these men’s experiences and narratives. As such the idea of ‘onroadness’ powerfully shapes all aspects of their lives. It is argued that more focus is needed on the psychosocial factors that force some men into volatile social worlds, and the personal contexts that frame local narratives of ‘on road’ culture, especially within wider experiences of friendship, faith, and identity. The thesis suggests that this form of analysis offers a critical explanatory framework within which it is possible to understand the lives of some of the young and adult men in certain inner city areas in the UK.
Description: This thesis was submitted for the award of Doctor of Philosophy and was awarded by Brunel University London
Appears in Collections:Youth Work
Dept of Clinical Sciences Theses

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