Narratives of Decline: Youth, (Dis)order and Community in an English Middletown

Richard Sparks, I. Loader and E. Girling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The paper is concerned with how adult residents of one medium-sized, moderately affluent English town which is generally regarded as having a relatively low crime rate interpret and respond to teenage ‘incivilities’. We begin by locating the conflicts over teenage mis/behaviour that occur across many of the town's diverse areas and assessing how the intensity of adult response varies according to people's relationship to place. We then examine the kinds of discourse that such mis/behaviour prompts, discourse that frequently slips away from the locality as such and speaks to the condition (and decline) of the ‘national community’. Finally, we consider some of the responses people make to teenage mis/behaviour in their own immediate neighbourhoods. By connecting people's ‘crime-talk’ to their sense of place, we tease out a contradiction between the obligations that people acknowledge to troublesome ‘local’ youth and their more punitive, exdusionaiy utterances about ‘youth in general’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)388-403
JournalBritish Journal of Criminology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1998


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