Youth as an artefact of governing violence: Violence to young people shapes violence by young people

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Young people are routinely depicted as uniquely violent. Much work has been done, particularly within the sociology of youth, to dispel this misconception. However, these portrayals persist, as does the narrative of youth as a period of transition. This article argues that the transition in youth is a process of governing violence into sanctioned forms. To achieve adult status young people must conform to sanctioned forms of violence. Furthermore, the article argues that the physical, structural and symbolic violence done to young people, shapes the violence done by them. Youth is an intensely governed period. The young people in focus in this article are subject to additional governing by the state. They are hyper-governed. This article draws on labelling theory and the analytics of governmentality to analyse hyper-governed young people’s experiences of ubiquitous violence. Hyper-governed young people describe experiences of ‘neoliberal violence’ that produce docility and progressively increasing commitments to the norms of violence. The article concludes, therefore, that youth is an artefact of violence that governs, but also the product of governing young people’s violence. Youth as an artefact of governing violence describes violence done to young people shaping violence done by young people.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1070-1086
Number of pages17
JournalCurrent Sociology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2018


  • Governing
  • neoliberal violence
  • neoliberalism
  • transition
  • violence
  • youth


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