Constructing meaning about the delinquency of young girls in public-housing neighbourhoods

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Rooted in the theoretical approaches of social ecology and in childhood studies, the Ph.D. research project on which this paper is based aimed to achieve a better understanding of children’s socialization processes in multi-problematic spaces, particularly concerning their involvement in violence and delinquency. A case study based on ethnographic research and child-centred methods was carried out in six public-housing neighbourhoods in Portugal, which were chosen because they had relatively high levels of social deprivation, violence and crime. The specificity of the social group under study—children aged from 6 to 12 years old—and their living conditions, led us to extend the data collected by trying to learn, from the girls, the reasoning and the meanings they assign to their own actions in daily social practices. The intention was to study the features of girls’ socialization in the field through their own accounts of their lives and to examine their perspectives on offending behaviours. The genderized process of social learning in delinquency identified in the girls’ conversation is an important variable, as familial and social experiences tend to facilitate their entry into delinquency. The transmission of delinquent values takes place essentially within the female family circle or via female peers, rather than from the influence of male individuals.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFemale Crime and Delinquency in Portugal
Subtitle of host publicationIn and Out of the Criminal Justice System
EditorsSílvia Gomes, Vera Duarte
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9783319735344
ISBN (Print)9783319735337
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2018


  • Children
  • Girls’ delinquency
  • Gender
  • Social housing neighbourhoods
  • Visual methodologies


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