Birmingham Newman University lecturer publishes book chapter on youth and gang crime

02/10/2023 by Newman Staff

Dr Pete Harris’ chapter is called “He’s shown me the road – Role Model and Road Man”

Dr Pete Harris, Senior Lecturer at Birmingham Newman University, published a book chapter “He’s shown me the road – Role Model and Road Man” in a new edited collection from Bristol University Press.

Edited by Jade Levell, Tara Young, and Rod Earle ‘Exploring Urban Youth Culture Outside of the Gang Paradigm -Critical Questions of Youth, Gender and Race On-Road’ 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 young people’s social lives. It addresses the concerns of practitioners, policymakers, and scholars by analysing aspects and misinterpretations of the shifting realities of young people’s urban life.

In his contribution to the book, Dr Peter Harris said: “In the chapter, I examine some of the taken-for-granted ideas that lie behind the idea that ‘road men’ need older, positive, male ‘role models’. There seem to be a lot of youth projects that seek to engage young men via that approach, which pins a lot of hope for impact on the power of that relationship to create change. In my chapter, I tell a vivid story of one relationship between a young black man and his white older male youth worker. How does their relationship develop? How do they see each other? What aspects of their relationship seem to create change? And how do issues of identity like race and gender play out over time?

“There is so much public talk and political sloganeering about the problem of youth violence and gangs these days, and often some of that talk really needs closer examination. One example is the language surrounding young men involved in violence and the older men who are sometimes employed to work with them, to try and help them remove themselves from the dangers of violence in urban environments.

I’m really pleased to have been asked to be involved in this book project. As Jonathan Ilan says in his review – the book is ” a welcome departure from the well-trodden path – there are no stereotypes of Black ‘gang members’ here.”

Pete Harris spent 18 years as a youth worker and then as a senior manager for a children’s charity before joining Birmingham Newman University in 2010. He holds a BA in Social Policy,  a Dip. H.E. in Youth and Community Work and an M.A. in Education Studies. He was Presidents Doctoral Scholar at Manchester University where he completed an ESRC-funded PhD in Criminology.

‘Exploring Urban Youth Culture Outside of the Gang Paradigm -Critical Questions of Youth, Gender and Race On-Road’ is available to buy online.


Notes to editor:

Birmingham Newman University was founded in 1968 as a teacher training college, before gaining full university status in 2013 offering numerous undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications. Newman students come from a range of social backgrounds, faiths, and cultures. The university focuses on interactive teaching and developing students with the skills they need to make a positive contribution to society. In 2023 Birmingham Newman University was named the best in the UK for student satisfaction in the most recent National Student Survey (NSS).For more information please email or call +44 0121 476 1181