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Observing institutional culture: An ethnographic study

Howell, Matthew Edward 2021. Observing institutional culture: An ethnographic study. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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The ethnography explores the types of cultures that emerge in institutional settings, in particular homeless youth hostels. The culture of homeless youth hostels is largely influenced by the social backgrounds of residents, which play an instrumental role in shaping norms and values. This study takes an interpretivist view, recognising the fluidity of culture and the many forms that it takes. Indeed, the thesis argues that cultural backgrounds play important roles in influencing both how an individual perceives the hostel and what they contribute to its cultural development. Therefore, shaping many of the daily exchanges that take place among the young people and staff members who interact within the hostel. Homeless youth hostels aim to provide residents with the necessary skills needed to live independently, which includes ensuring residents subscribe to conventional culture and engage with mainstream society. However, norms and values sometimes emerge in the hostel that run in opposition to conventional culture, resulting in the hostel failing to achieve its primary objectives, leading to residents embracing behaviours that are deemed negative. This results in residents engaging in activities that can be thought of as detrimental to their progression into independent living. Although these types of behaviour are condemned by many in mainstream society, this thesis argues they are often rational responses to their situation. It, therefore, recognises that whilst being free to make decisions in their lives, young homeless people are constrained by structural forces beyond their control. Ideas around safety play an important role in this thesis. It should be recognised as a subjective term, which has very different meanings for different people. Sometimes young people at the hostel feel safe when they are very clearly not safe. This thesis concentrates on perceptions of safety and notions of ontological security in relation to distinct understandings of institutional culture.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 14 July 2022
Last Modified: 14 Jul 2022 15:26

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