Delinquent youth

Floris Mosselman

Violent behavior of young adults is often linked to socio-economic factors or ethnic background. However, these analyses cannot explain why so many youngsters with the same characteristics do not show violent behavior. The aim of this research project is to gain insight into how violence works in groups of delinquent young adults and to uncover what enables or disables violent behavior of these young men and women.

To find answers to these questions I will study the relationship between violence and young adults from three perspectives. First, I will map how they emotionally experience antagonistic situations. Are there feelings of tension, fear, anger, excitement or emotional dominance during these situations, and if so, how does this influence their actions and those of others. Second, I will focus on mutual alignment of the group, before and during a violent incident. By looking at spatial positioning and synchronizing bodily behaviors of the actors and their opponents this research will explore how mutual alignment possibly influences violent situations. Third, I will study how they maintain and strengthen their sense of moral community, what role masculine identity, place, group dynamics and shared memories of previous violent situations play in this process, and how this sense of moral community influences future violent interactions. Ethnographic methods and interviews enable the study of these aspects, and contrary to former ethnographic research on violent young adults in The Netherlands I will study groups from different cities, sexes and ethnic backgrounds. By looking for particularities and similarities between these groups I will shed light on the workings of violence in young adults.