Journal Article

Conceptualizing Young People's Strategies of Resistance to Offending as ‘Active Resilience’

Cathy Murray

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 40, issue 1, pages 115-132
Published in print January 2010 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online August 2008 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI:
Conceptualizing Young People's Strategies of Resistance to Offending as ‘Active Resilience’

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This paper draws on the Quest for Identity study, which comprised secondary analysis of interviews with young people who have never offended (‘resisters’) and young people who have offended, then ceased (‘desisters’), as well as peer led focus groups with resisters. However, the paper focuses solely on the semi-structured interviews with 62 young resisters and addresses the research question as to how they maintain their resistance to offending. Contrary to the passivity associated with non-offending, it is argued that in maintaining their resistance to offending young resisters engage in what I term ‘active resilience’. This is exemplified by a range of strategies employed by resisters, which includes: managing offending peers, taking temporal leaps, ‘othering’ offenders and telling atrocity stories. The concept of active resilience resonates with the key theoretical perspective associated with the social studies of childhood, which characterises young people as agentic social actors, and also with the resilience literature, with its recent perceptible shift towards acknowledging young people's contribution to their own resilience. The paper concludes with the implications of the findings for policy, practice and future research.

Keywords: Active resilience; non-offenders; strategies of resistance; young resisters

Journal Article.  7352 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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