'Boy racer', an ambiguous label : working towards a better understanding and a new managerial strategy (2003)
In New Zealand, so-called 'boy racers' and their associated activities have been subject to much media coverage and the focus of much discussion within public fora over recent years. Many community groups consider 'boy racers' to be a threat to cultural, economic, social and political investments , and to constitute a challenge to hegemonic conceptions of decency and respectability and the appropriate function of public spaces. The label 'boy racer' collectivises and homogenises a group of people with a broad range of characteristics , therefore it is more accurate to discuss a sub-culture that is based round cars (hence Car-Centred Sub-Culture, or CCSC) . Given negative media ' framing ' of the sub-culture and strong voices in opposition to sub cultural activities from within the community, this study aims to deconstruct the term 'boy racer' and to explore the sub-culture in detail, within the context of Christchurch. Further, it aims to formulate a set of policy recommendations for the Christchurch City Council that balance the interests of the CCSC and other stakeholders. A phenomenological ethnographic approach to research has been adopted to fulfil these aims. The approach includes conducting semi-structured interviews with members of the CCSC and with other stakeholders, analysing the messages that are sent by different forms of popular culture, and observing the activities of the CCSC. Empirical research supports the theory that the sub-culture has a diverse membership and a range of associated types of behaviour. Additionally, activity is variable across space and time. Individuals have differing attitudes, depending largely on where they have situated themselves socially, as to the extent to which they believe that these activities constitute an inappropriate use of public spaces. Further, television and print m_eedia tends to 'frame' the sub-culture as an anti -social group, while other forms of popular culture often reinforce those activities that are most central to the CCSC.
KeywordsProblem youth--New Zealand--Christchurch; Subculture--New Zealand--Christchurch; Teenage automobile drivers--New Zealand--Christchurch; Automobiles--Social aspects--New Zealand--Christchurch
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