Max Travers
author of The Sentencing of Children

About Max Travers

Max Travers

After qualifying as a solicitor in the United Kingdom in 1988, I became a sociologist through completing a masters and doctoral thesis at the University of Manchester.


My doctorate, later published as The Reality of Law (1997) was supervised by Wes Sharrock and Rod Watson. This was an ethnomethodological investigation into the practical work of defence lawyers. While working at Bucks New University in High Wycombe, I published a study, The British Immigration Courts (1999), about the work of judicial officers hearing immigration and asylum appeals. My third monograph, The New Bureaucracy (2007), was a study about the rise of quality assurance in public sector occupations.


I have also published two textbooks. Qualitative Research Through Case Studies (2001) has sold over 3,000 copies, many purchased in the USA. Understanding Law and Society (2009) is an introduction to the sociology of law. An Introduction to Law and Social Theory (2002) and Theory and Method in Socio-Legal Research (2005), edited with Reza Banakar, are more advanced introductions to the sociology of law. We are working on a second edition of Law and Social Theory. My first collection, Law in Action (1997), edited with John Manzo, contains classic papers by ethnomethodologists and conversation analysts about law, and the criminal justice process.


After moving to the University of Tasmania in Australia in 2003, I conducted an ethnographic study of sentencing in children's courts in the three states of Tasmania, Victoria and New South Wales. I like the directness of American ethnographies that describe work processes and "lived experience" in some detail.


The Sentencing of Children is intended to be a Chicago-style study, written in a similar spirit to those studies published on social issues at the University of Chicago during the 1920s and 1930s, even though in a different time and place. The book gives a realistic portrayal of professional work in this institution, rather than a one-sided political account. It does not suggest that there is a solution to the problem of youth crime. However, I am hoping that the description of everyday work demonstrates the value of a tolerant approach that gives young people many chances.

Many books about juvenile justice are written by those who already have a professional perspective or commitment to a policy agenda...Then there are people like myself , working in different social science traditions, who have become interested in these institutions…by chance and through curiosity.

Although such researchers might be seen as naïve or ill-informed by insiders, they come with the advantage of having few preconceptions, and inevitably will see things differently.

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