Published in: Youth Media Reporter: The Profession Journal of the Youth Media Field

Full Title: Youthtopias: Towards a New Paradigm of Critical Youth Studies


Social science research on Black and Latina/o youth has been dominated by studies that focus on “problem” adolescent behavior. These studies are largely related to public policy concerns about crime and safety in poor urban communities. Typically, they explain youth crime, delinquency, and violence as individual pathological behavior or from cultural adaptations that stem from social disorganization in poor urban communities. The social disorganization thesis explains how gross disinvestments in urban communities ultimately lead to the erosion of community and family values and to behaviors that create and sustain poverty. Scholars argue that urban youth learn “ghetto related” behaviors, including disrespect for authority, indifference toward educational achievement, and lack of work ethic from other urban residents who have given up on legitimate means for economic security.