Julius Elster

London Metropolitan University United Kingdom


Lecturer and youth sociologist who enjoys dabbling in the philosophy of the social sciences.

Born in Norway. Educated at London School of Economics (MSc) and University of Birmingham (PhD), my main field of research is sociology of youth and contemporary social theory. Drawing on a specific construal of reflexivity and borrowing from phenomenologically inspired sociology, my research examines heterogeneity in youth, epistemic injustice, diversity, marginalised experiences and identity formation.

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Youth voices in post-English riots Tottenham: The role of reflexivity in negotiating negative representations

Numerous negative representations of youth emerged in the aftermath of the 2011 English riots. This article intends to fill a gap in the literature on the ‘riot-affected’ areas by looking at how youths from Tottenham (the North London constituency where a peaceful demonstration escalated into the English riots of 2011) deal with stereotypical and homogeneous portrayals put forward by the British mainstream news media and many government ministers. In drawing on an alternative conceptualisation of reflexivity that spells out how reflexive orientations relate to lived experiences, the article aims to open up novel pathways for understanding youth reflexivity in the context of being regularly subjected to negative representations. This is achieved by tying reflexive activity more closely to Alfred Schütz’s notion of ‘stock of knowledge’. The study applies qualitative methods to empirically address how a group of eighteen 15- to 25-year-olds from Tottenham reflexively negotiate the harmful consequences of stigmatised identities. The most striking conclusion to emerge from the data is that Tottenham’s young people embody a diverse range of youth identities and reflexive attitudes; a conclusion that flies in the face of the way in which much of the media depicted youths after the riots.

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