This chapter focuses on friendship ‘in the round’ and how it emerges within the context of the ‘street’. Despite concerns about their troublesome consequences, little is known about the qualities or characteristics these friendships hold for young people ‘on-road’. Traditional scholarship on delinquent behaviours agrees that a sizeable proportion of delinquency happens between and by young people in groups. This chapter explores and explains the nuance of relationships ‘on-road’ and moves the dialogue about young people’s deviance and offending away from the reductionist, stigmatising and racialised rhetoric of ‘gang talk’ and towards a more sensitive understanding of the sociocultural conditions that preclude or encourage the formation of ‘good’ and/or troublesome friendships.
‘On-road’ is a complex term used by young people to describe street-based subculture and a general way of being. Featuring the voices of young people, this collection explores how race, class and gender dynamics shape this aspect of youth culture.
With young people on-road often becoming criminalised due to interlocking structural inequalities, this book looks beyond concerns about gangs and presents empirical research from scholars and activists who work with and study the social lives of young people. It addresses the concerns of practitioners, policy makers and scholars by analysing aspects and misinterpretations of the shifting realities of young people’s urban life.
This chapter is written as three sets of reflections by the editors on the preceding collection and the next steps for on-road scholarship. The editors each reflect on the aspects of the collection which speak most to them and our own work, and most importantly, what the next steps are for this field of study and what questions need to be further posed and answered. Levell’s section focuses on the use of feminist theory to understand subjectivity, relationality, love and community in the collection. She argues that this humanised previously stigmatised young people. Young looks at the contentions that result from the over-focus on gangs, including enhanced racial discrimination and over-policing. Earle weaves in his own journey to on-road scholarship with reflections on the chapters, and the undercurrents of music, inequality, Whiteness, racial capitalism, and the desire to see beyond youth criminality and instead focusing on the richness of their lives.
The opening chapter sets out the main objectives of the book and its subject matter. This will include a preliminary discussion of the animating concept of on-road and the origins of the editors’ interests in this field of study. The chapter will outline the importance of intersectional approaches that build on Black feminism’s insistence on focusing on the co-constitutive features of race, gender and class. The chapter will include brief discussion of critical race theory, gender theory and the class stratification in racialised capitalism. These will be linked to the empirical work around youth and young people’s lives in the UK, with an argument for raising the profile of more explicitly gendered perspectives in research on young men and young women’s lives. The chapter outlines the structure of the book and its constitutive chapters.