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Identities, Diversities and Criminal Justice

This group focuses on relationality and identity, in that identity is seen as created in the relationships between people. It also looks at the fracturing and reinvention of relationships and identities in a world where the global and the local are more intimately connected and there is a growing diversity of identities.

It asks questions about how there can be community cohesion and social justice in the context of ethnic and religious diversity, and how people can participate in or control social change in their communities and localities. Do dramatic changes in family life mean social dislocation or increasing choice and democracy? How do individuals build identity and self in this fractured and changing world?

Individualisation and globalisation are seen as underlying processes in this transition, but paradoxically commitment to others and interpersonal relations appear all the more important, while social divisions of class, ethnicity and sexuality remain central to the construction of identities. Our research aims to chart these social changes, assess competing social theories about them, and examine how social policy and the law might change in response.

The group contributes to this agenda in three strands:

Ethnic diversity and community cohesion

The first strand builds on established strengths in ethnic, religious and (trans)national identities.

Empirically, research has examined Muslim community cohesion in Bradford, with a report on this having just been completed by Professor Yunas Samad for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation(Muslim Community Cohesion: Bradford Report, Joseph Rowntree Foundation 2010). Professor Samad has also written on forced marriages among men and the identity based roots of Jihadi movements in Afghanistan and Pakistan, with a forthcoming book Pakistan-US Conundrum: Jihadis, Miltiary and the People –The Struggle for Control (Hurst & Co. forthcoming 2011).

Yunis Alam and Professor Charles Husband have completed a study giving subjects from minority ethnic and religious groups in inner-city Bradford a voice. Called Made in West Yorkshire this was funded by the AWYA and Joseph Rowntree Foundation and will result in a monograph Social Cohesion and Counter-Terrorism: A Contradiction? (Policy Press, forthcoming 2011). Professor Husband also continues his internationally recognised work on media representation, multiculturalism and the public sphere in multi-ethnic societies.

Dr Marie Macey has recently published Multiculturalism, Religion and Women: Doing Harm by Doing Good? (Palgrave 2009) from her longstanding research on social class, ethnicity, religion and gender, and also a book with Dr Alan Carling Ethnic, Racial and Religious Inequalities: The Perils of Subjectivity (Palgrave 2010).

Family change, behaviour and policy

The second strand in this group tackles family change and behaviour, the implications for policy and for theories of individualisation and ‘relationality’.

Analysing Families (Routledge 2002 eds. Carling, Duncan, Edwards) is an early presentation. Professor Simon Duncan has continued publishing on changes in the formation of families and personal life, with a chapter ‘New families?’ (with Miranda Phillips) in the ESRC funded British Social Attitudes: the 24th Report (Sage 2008) and a new edited collection (with R. Edwards and C. Alexander)Teenage parenting - what’s the problem? (Tufnel Press 2010). Professor Duncan has also worked on changing ideas of the family in Britain and Sweden (1950-2007), a project funded by the British Academy, and has just begun a large project funded by the ERSC called Living Apart Together: A Multi-method Analysis (with M. Phillips and S. Roseneil).

Tom Cockburn has applied the feminist ethics of care to childhood and children’s participation in decision–making, and is researching the inclusion of children and young people into civil society for Carnegie.

Taking an economic approach to social behaviour and policy, Professor Sam Cameron has effectively created a new sub-discipline with The Economics of Sin (Elgar 2002, Chinese ed. 2008) and a sequel The Economics of Hate (Elgar 2009). Continuing this work, he also examines prostitution use, drug use, religious belief, homophobia, and artists’ creativity (British Academy), and places this research into particular policy contexts.

Identity and the self

Ian Burkitt’s work is central to research in this area, and his seminal contribution is represented by a completely revised and extended edition of Social Selves (Sage 2008). His work on emotions, identities and the phenomenology of embodiment does not only advance our understandings of everyday life, but also holds insights into policy making.

Closely linked work by Paul Sullivan focuses on dialogue – both with others and with oneself – in the creation of identity and self, and the process of fashioning one's own authentic voice out of the voices of others. This has applications to domestic violence (resisting the negative voices of partners and others’ perceived judgements), making art (resisting the influential voices of the art community to fulfil one's own vision) and mental health (overcoming the negative voices of others in one's own mind).

Clare Beckett’s work on contested identities and sexualities interrogates interfaces between activism and identity, and investigates conflict and similarity between feminism and disability politics, and feminism and multiculturalism. A current project, with Yorkshire and Humberside Probation Service, examines gender, sexuality and power within the supervisory relationship. This strand includes considerable methodological innovation around autobiography, narrative, dialogics, interview analysis, and using the web as a source of data.