The Journey of the Excluded: Schooling and Crime in the Exclusive Society
MetadataShow full item record
Over the last 30 years, Western school systems have intensified their use of exclusionary practices as a means of social control in schools. Suspensions, exclusions, and segregation in special facilities have become the main disciplinary strategies in what used to be the most inclusive institution since the instauration of compulsory schooling at the beginning of the twentieth century. In Australian school systems, a similar growth in educational exclusion has also been observed. During the same period, educational expenditure in Australia has plummeted while investment in criminal justice institutions has soared. The emerging international literature on school exclusion has linked the phenomenon with a greater likelihood of concurrent and future engagement in crime. Suggestions have been made that the causes of these exclusionary trends in Western school systems are situated at three distinct, but possibly interacting, levels. At an individual level, it has been claimed that the problem is associated with a growing number of children suffering from defective personal constitutions and deleterious experiences: hence school disruption has increased. At an institutional level, the phenomenon has been associated with changes and problems in school discipline and culture. At a societal level, these trends have been linked to the wider problem of social exclusion in an increasingly exclusive society. Using data that permit analyses at these three levels of interpretation, this thesis investigates the problem of educational exclusion and its association with crime. Through matching official records from educational, social services, and criminal justice institutions, the study involves a detailed analysis of the socio-educational contexts and journeys of 300 individuals who, between 1973 and 2003, were removed from Queensland regular primary schools and placed in a withdrawal unit. The thesis examines who they were, where they came from, what happened to them, and where they ended up. Criminal trajectories data were specifically analysed in relation to three major competing theories, which are representative of the taxonomic, static, and dynamic perspectives constituting the field of life course criminology. The thesis confirms the main findings of extant research about the growing trends in educational exclusion, the characteristics of the schools and the students involved, and the link with crime. The thesis concludes that all three levels of analysis (individual, institutional, and societal) may be used to interpret educational exclusion. However, a strong version of social exclusion where opportunities are totally blocked for an underclass actively rejected by exclusionary powers in society, better explains the growing phenomenon of educational exclusion. The societal level of interpretation also provides a framework in which the individual and institutional levels can be understood. The dynamic perspective of criminal trajectories better accounts for the data, despite its gender and class bias, which it shares with the taxonomic and static perspectives. With its concepts of social support and structurally-facilitated human agency, which open opportunity for change (turning points), the dynamic perspective offers more prospects for social intervention than the taxonomic and static perspectives. These concepts can be reframed within a structural and more critical analysis of social exclusion, educational exclusion, and crime. The thesis proposes that widespread mechanisms of individualisation are essential components in the processes of exclusion, their maintenance, and reproduction. It is argued that the implementation of individualised and individualising remedial programs, at the school or community levels, often further atomisation and processes of exclusion. It suggests that, instead, school systems and communities, particularly in disadvantaged areas, need to focus on what could be called “the pedagogy of the oppressed.” This long-term, educational, comprehensive, and liberating social intervention places structural oppression, including institutionalised and inter-individual violence and social exclusion, as objects of study around which school organisations, curriculum, and pedagogies, are articulated.
Thesis (PhD Doctorate)
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
School of Criminology and Criminal Justice
Item Access Status