Crime as Conformity: Youth Resistance and Peacemaking

L.A. Visano, York University

The search for a comprehensive understanding of resistance has long eluded criminologists. Based on a three year study on the impact of the media on delinquency that incorporates cross sectional and longituinal analyses of 200 youths (incarcerated, street and high school) this paper examines the relationship between culture and crime in reference to resistance practices. Informed by critical social theory and peacemaking criminology, this paper links ideological-institutional-identity foci and their concomitant mediations/interconnections and contradictions. It is argued, first, that the normative emphasis on delinquency as resistance suffers from conceptual weaknesses regarding the interplay of ideology (modernity, liberalism and capitalism) and institutions (media, schooling, criminal justice). Second, the parochial politicization of delinquency defers to the arrogance of ignorance by refusing to inquire into the conditions that constitute the ideology-institution nexus; the differential impact of ideologies on resistances; differential impact of resistance on ideologies and the manner by which ideologies and institutions appropriate delinquency to attenuate prospects for praxis. Specifically, this paper asks the following questions: To what extent do ideologies form and inform delinquencies in relation to conflicting narratives of resistance? How and why do youths talk up narratives of regulation and resistance? How does culture hegemonize resistance? How does delinquency function to mediate relations, representations and recognition? Within the larger culture, the cultural commodity of crime is a complex form of social communication that diverts attention away from the political impact of predatory ideologies.

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Updated 05/20/2006