From neuroscientific research findings to juvenile justice practice in Scotland
Plafky, Christina S.
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As a growing field of research, neuroscience receives more and more attention from lay people as well as professionals in various contexts. This ESRC funded dissertation investigates how neuroscientific research findings influence juvenile justice practice in Scotland. The study concentrates on the aspect of aggressive behaviour in children and young people. The thesis begins by reviewing juvenile justice practice in Scotland. This is followed by an overview of key neuroscientific research findings possibly relevant for juvenile justice practice. Further context for this dissertation is provided by a review of the theoretical frameworks for understanding how practitioners use knowledge with particular reference to knowledge production and transdisciplinarity in social work. The thesis then moves on to an empirical analysis, based on a case study approach employing qualitivative data collection methods in addition to a discourse analysis of relevant neuroscientific research publications. The empirical chapters explore different aspects and perspectives of the process, by which neuroscientific research findings move from a scientific paper to juvenile justice practice. The conceptualisation of aggressive behaviour in the different social worlds of juvenile justice practice and in neuroscientific research publications is examined, and aggressive behaviour is identified as a boundary object that spans the analysed social worlds. The perspective of training providers and practitioners on the utilised neuroscientific knowledge is explored. The conceptualisation of neuroscience is then placed in the context of the day-‐‑to-‐‑day realities of juvenile justice practice, with the aim of understanding how this knowledge potentially changes practitioners’ perspectives towards service users. The knowledge utilisation process is investigated, with focus on the different actors and their roles in a context of transdisciplinarity in juvenile justice practice. In conclusion, the thesis provides recommendations for knowledge providers, practitioners, policymakers and academics by considering ways of improving a critical perspective on knowledge from other disciplines; encouraging training providers and practitioners to become more active participants in this knowledge utilisation process; and by including the need for working environments where active knowledge utilisation is integrated in the work place.