An Investigation of Everyday Morality and Anti-Social Behaviour


Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Anti-social Behaviour (ASB) has been described as something that cannot be ignored and a real concern for the everyday lives of people. A key issue has been the need to address public perceptions and concerns that a rising tide of ASB is concomitant to a wider societal moral decline. An assumed rising ASB, moral decline and a lack of respect are widespread perceptions. ASB is also thought to have an impact on peoples quality of life. Cogent links have been reported between levels of deprivation and those who perceive ASB as a serious concern in their communities. What factors underpin these perceptions have previously been examined, the aim being to introduce policy-based measures that can tackle both ASB and the perception of ASB. This thesis considers the everyday morality that informs public perceptions of ASB: namely what do people believe it means to be anti-social; what is perceived as everyday morality and how does this relate to ASB; and what role, if any, does everyday morality play in determining the public’s perceptions of ASB. The thesis utilizes a qualitative approach involving the use of focus groups and Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Nine focus groups were conducted in three locations in the North West of England (Skelmersdale, Rainford and St Helens) selected according to their Indices of Multiple Deprivation score (IMD, 2010) to represent an area of high deprivation, mixed deprivation and low deprivation. A deductive IPA analysis revealed that public perceptions of ASB were grounded in people’s own personal experiences of ASB (and those of friends or family). Whether an act was perceived as immoral and anti-social was related to the consequences of the behaviour, the context of when or why it occurred, and public preconceptions regarding their own experiences. Public perceptions of ASB were found to be subjective, and they varied both within and between each focus group location. ASB and everyday morality were perceived to be linked - with everyday morality being perceived as an internal deterrent that may prohibit one from behaving anti-socially. Further clarification is needed to confirm how deeply public perceptions are related to everyday morality but also how this might inform approaches to tackling ASB. It is suggested that everyday morality provides a framework to understand how individuals navigate everyday social situations in public spaces.
Date of Award26 Mar 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Edge Hill University
SupervisorANDREW MILLIE (Director of Studies) & LEON CULBERTSON (Supervisor)

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