Labelled as ‘risky’ in an era of control: how young people experience and respond to the stigma of criminalised identities.

Jo Deakin, Claire Fox, Raquel Matos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

390 Downloads (Pure)


The construction and labelling of groups of young people as ‘risky’ sets off a multifaceted and dynamic social process of stigma that frequently results in reduced life chances and limited opportunities for change. Drawing on case study data from 4 European countries, this paper focuses on the ways in which stigma is reproduced through interactions and interventions that label young people. Our analysis explores how young people experience and understand stigma, and how they respond to it. Framed within a theoretical understanding of stigma as a construct of power we examine its components and cyclical process, its role in shaping policies of social control, and its consequences for groups of ‘risky’ young people. Our analysis develops Link and Phelan’s (2001) concept to include reference to young people’s reactions and responses: alienation and marginalisation; anger and resistance; empathy and generativity. In conclusion, we argue that stigma acts primarily as an inhibitor of young people’s constructive engagement in wider society, serving to reduce beneficial opportunities. However, some young people are able to resist the label, and, for them, resistance can become generative and enabling.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)653-673
Number of pages21
JournalEuropean Journal of Criminology
Issue number4
Early online date20 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2022


  • youth justice, criminal justice interventions, youth work, stigma, labelling, risk, criminalisation, inequality, social control


Dive into the research topics of 'Labelled as ‘risky’ in an era of control: how young people experience and respond to the stigma of criminalised identities.'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this