Institutional production of gender in juvenile courts.: Reflections on the treatment of adolescents in the French civil and criminal justice systems

Abstract : Institutions dealing with the public take part in the production of this public and of categories of this public. Juvenile courts are a case in point. In a recent ethno-graphic research conducted in two French juvenile courts, we have shown how gender structures the way in which teenage boys and girls are treated by the judiciary. How exactly does the judiciary produce gender and through what mechanisms ? How is one to understand that case files consistently show that girls are more willingly spared social control and benefit from specific forms of protection while the perception of boys' deviant behavior focuses on what they do and from a more strictly criminal angle ? The present research forms part of a doctoral dissertation studying the treatment of teenagers by civil and criminal justice from the point of view of gender and the various power relations structuring society (1). It draws on at least three sociological fields: the sociology of deviance, which addresses the relationship between the « norm » and its « deviations »; the sociology of law and justice, which deals with a complex professional field marked by highly codified rationalities; and the sociology of gender, which has long permitted the study of gender-biased treatments and provided us with the tools to give an account of them. Approached from these different angles, our topic can be summarized in the following questions: « How does an institution, whose first objective is to say and apply the law, deliver sentences ? Are these sentences influenced by norms existing outside the institution but predominant in society, as for example gender norms, which tend to construct differentiated models of adolescent boys and girls and of how they de-viate? To what extent does justice make arbitrary judgments on the sole basis of gender ?
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Arthur Vuattoux. Institutional production of gender in juvenile courts.: Reflections on the treatment of adolescents in the French civil and criminal justice systems. 2016. ⟨hal-01334347⟩

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