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'But They Just Don't Respect Us': young people's experiences of (dis)respected citizenship and the New Labour Respect Agenda

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The New Labour Respect Agenda fuses anti-social behaviour policies, Third Way active citizenship, and a theory of community-based support and regulation. The Respect Agenda itself has a specific focus on, and direct implications for, children and young people, as well as for children living in vulnerable families. This paper argues that the theoretical basis for New Labour's 'Respect' is limited and ultimately flawed. Whilst New Labour policy demands respect from young people, young people's lived citizenship is too often experienced in terms of disrespect and even shame of the self. Young people respond to these feelings of disrespect by seeking out other ways through which respect can be acted out and negotiated. Respect, as conceptualised through the New Labour lens will criminalise vulnerable young people, thereby further stripping them of self-respect, inter-personal respect and societal respect. The paper concludes that respect should be an outcome of policy and a philosophy of a social justice led politics, rather than a conditionally led policy.
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Keywords: New Labour; Respect Agenda; children and young people; shame

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Geography, Queen Mary, University of London, London, UK

Publication date: 2008-08-01

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