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Youth justice and social harm: Towards a ‘theory of the good’

Gray, Patricia; Smith, Roger

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Patricia Gray


This article seeks to develop a distinctive conceptual framework for the purpose of (re)imagining progressive youth justice. We begin by utilising zemiological insights to relate the widely recognised impacts of neoliberalism to the social harms associated with the youth justice system. Then, drawing on a classification of children’s needs, informed by a ‘theory of the good’, and interrogating the idea of ‘utopia as method’, we move on to set out the guiding principles (‘archaeology’) and operational drivers (‘architecture’) which we believe provide an effective basis for the development of progressive forms of youth justice. We also acknowledge the value of several ‘noble attempts’ which go some way to achieving these objectives, despite limitations and systemic constraints.


Gray, P., & Smith, R. (2024). Youth justice and social harm: Towards a ‘theory of the good’. Criminology & Criminal Justice,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 5, 2024
Online Publication Date Jun 5, 2024
Publication Date Jun 5, 2024
Deposit Date Jul 9, 2024
Publicly Available Date Jul 9, 2024
Journal Criminology & Criminal Justice
Print ISSN 1748-8958
Electronic ISSN 1748-8966
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
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Published Journal Article (Advance Online Version) (201 Kb)


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Copyright Statement
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License ( which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (

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