Between coldness, calculation and "crazy life": violence and suffering in an adolescent's trajectory while complying with a social-educational measure

The concept of social suffering is marked by the understanding of affliction and pain situations as social experiences, rather than psychological or medical individual problems. This paper analyses the social and political nature of an adolescent's suffering while he is complying with a social-educational measure. Based on Veena Das' approach, the paper relies on "body" and speech in order to raise the issue of the relation between citizenship and discriminated youth segments that is manifested in the ambiguities of the institutional practices that are present in the execution flow of social-educational measures. The article analyses the contradictions between the institutional aim of avoiding the recidivism of infraction acts, helping the adolescent become an autonomous citizen, and the adolescents' narratives and body expressions while complying with the measure. The ethnographical experience described here leads to the examination of ambiguities present in the transit from freedom privation to open environment measures. This transit occurs under tensions between the institutional discourse of re-organizing the community, family and school life and the adolescents' daily experience, which continues to be marked by constant police threat and privation of access to public property. Complying with social-educational measures seems to reinforce among adolescents the affliction of being socially seen as suspects and runaways, as well as the incorporation of a particular social place: member of "the world of crime". The performance in daily life of a "criminal lifestyle" reveals ways of answering to the dominant discourse in the socio-educational system; a context that indicates the paradox of the Brazilian State, which guarantees a formal democracy while violates civil rights.

Adolescent; Social-Educational Measure; Social Suffering; Violence; Ethnography


Faculdade de Saúde Pública, Universidade de São Paulo. Associação Paulista de Saúde Pública. Av. dr. Arnaldo, 715, Prédio da Biblioteca, 2º andar sala 2, 01246-904 São Paulo - SP - Brasil, Tel./Fax: +55 11 3061-7880 - São Paulo - SP - Brazil
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