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Urban youth cultures and the re-building of social capital: illustrations from a pilot study in Glasgow

Deuchar, Ross (2009) Urban youth cultures and the re-building of social capital: illustrations from a pilot study in Glasgow. Scottish Youth Issues Journal (1). pp. 7-22. ISSN 1469-0780

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Abstract

The demonization of youth in urban communities is on the increase globally, and the recent media obsession with youth gang culture has added to this moral panic. This paper examines evidence from a small qualitative pilot study of young people in some of the most deprived urban communities in Glasgow, Scotland. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with disaffected young people between the ages of 14-19 years as a means of exploring their experience of urban phenomena and the impact this experience has on the generation of social capital. The findings illustrate that the young people feel stigmatised, victimised and excluded from urban space, and that territorial issues restrict their social mobility. Although gang membership provides some young people with a source of bonding social capital, the reality of their lives is one devoid of trust, reciprocity and agency. The paper presents evidence from a case study of a new community-based youth work initiative in Glasgow and the impact it has on re-building social capital among young marginalised men. The paper ends with implications for practice and suggestions for future research.