‘Overcoming the barriers to engagement’: a study of the relationships between Youth Justice Service caseworkers and young men who offend

Booth, Allan (2019) ‘Overcoming the barriers to engagement’: a study of the relationships between Youth Justice Service caseworkers and young men who offend. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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This thesis presents findings from an ESRC-funded doctoral study on the formation and ongoing maintenance of the relationship between local authority Youth Justice Service caseworkers and young men on their caseload. The dominant youth justice literature discusses community supervision as a technical and bureaucratic exercise but there is little attention paid to the emotional labour dynamics during face-to-face contacts.

Twenty participants; 9 young men and 11 caseworkers were interviewed for this study. A phenomenological approach was taken to guide conversations to reflect each participant’s personal experiences of face-to-face contact. These personal reflective accounts of young men and caseworkers offered empirically informed insights into the concept of engagement through specific examples of real-life encounters. All participants were from one local authority youth justice service.

It will be shown that most young men started from a position of scepticism before the first contact but that they, largely, ended up working co-operatively and actively with their caseworker. In tracking this journey, it was found that securing engagement was a subtle process of interactions that directly affected the foundation from which behaviour changes can be attempted. During this process, specific behaviours were enacted that tested the commitment of caseworkers by implicitly demanding trust, genuineness and consistency.

The thesis concludes that the youth justice literature is not necessarily fully reflective of practice. To counter this, a more thorough understanding of emotional engagement during practice needs to be represented.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Ferguson, Harry
Fyson, Rachel
Keywords: Youth Justice Service caseworkers; youth offenders; face-to-face engagement; relationship breakdown
Subjects: H Social sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > School of Sociology and Social Policy
Item ID: 56427
Depositing User: Booth, Allan
Date Deposited: 24 Jul 2019 04:40
Last Modified: 07 May 2020 11:30
URI: https://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/56427

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