The reflexive voices of young people in Tottenham: youth-identity formation, reflexivity and negative representations

Elster, Julius ORCID: 0000-0001-5255-8266 (2019). The reflexive voices of young people in Tottenham: youth-identity formation, reflexivity and negative representations. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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While a wide body of literature has emerged on Tottenham’s youths since the England riots of 2011, the perceptions of the young people themselves have not been subjected to the same level of attention and scrutiny. My thesis intends to fill this gap by looking at the subjective experiences of youths in the north London constituency of Tottenham (the area where a peaceful demonstration escalated into the England riots). In particular, it investigates young people’s reflexive attitudes towards their identities and how they deal with stereotypical and homogeneous youth representations. By putting forward an alternative conceptualisation of reflexivity that spells out how reflexive orientations relate to lived experiences and past engagement in the social world, my study aims to open up novel pathways for understanding youth-identity formation and stereotyping processes.

The study applies qualitative methods, including a version of interpretative phenomenological analysis, to analyse identity-forming processes and how young people reflexively deal with the harmful consequences of stigmatised identities. Research participants (N = 16; 16–25 years of age) are drawn from various youth organisations operating in the Tottenham wards.

In shedding light on the discrepancy between how young people see themselves and how others—e.g., the media and politicians—view them, the study repudiates the common misconception that Tottenham’s youths are a homogeneous entity; rather, it concludes that these young people embody a complex ensemble of heterogeneous identities, outlooks and reflexive capacities.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: Department of Political Science and International Studies
Funders: Other
Other Funders: University of Birmingham Government and Society fees and bursary scholarship
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare


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