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The Sociology of Childhood

7. Juvenile Justice

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About this Lecture


In this lecture, we think about the issue of juvenile justice, which illuminates many of the issues we have been looking at in this course focusing in particular on: (i) the creation of the first juvenile court in Chicago in 1899; (ii) the advantages and disadvantages of juvenile justice; (iii) the importance of the idea of children as a social construction in relation to juvenile justice; (iv) the importance of child rights in relation to juvenile justice; (v) the extent to which inequalities are exacerbated within the juvenile justice system – especially inequalities centred on gender and race; and (vi) the mismatch between what international bodies such as the United Nations call for in relation to juvenile justice (e.g. the right to due process, avoidance of court involvement where possible, detention as a last resort, etc.) and the actual experience of children going through the juvenile justice system.


In this course, Professor Karen Wells (Birkbeck, University of London) explores the sociology of childhood. In the first lecture, we think about the idea is childhood is socially constructed. In the second lecture, we consider the idea that children have agency. In the third lecture, we think about child rights and the emergence of a 'child rights regime'. Next, we think about the inequalities that shape childhood. In the fifth lecture, we think about different theories of identity emerging from psychology and childhood studies. In the sixth lecture, we turn to think about school and work as domains of childhood. In the seventh and final lecture, we think about the juvenile justice system.


Professor Karen Wells is Professor of Human Geography at Birkbeck, University of London. Her research is focused on childhood studies, particularly the formation of childhood and the impact of inequality on children’s lives. She is author of The Visual Cultures of Childhood (2020), Childhood Studies: Making Young Subjects (2017), and Childhood in Global Perspective (2014).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Wells, K. (2021, August 23). The Sociology of Childhood - Juvenile Justice [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Wells, K. "The Sociology of Childhood – Juvenile Justice." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 23 Aug 2021,

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