Situating young people's experiences of risk and identity

Wendy A Mitchell, Paul Crawshaw, Robin Bunton, Eileen E Green

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Within late modernity a sense of 'risk' and increased individualisation are theoretically much discussed and debated, especially ideas surrounding risk, risky behaviour and its impact upon identity construction. Drawing upon data from a recent Department of the Environment funded project exploring risk and risk management in young people's lives, this article moves beyond theory and official discourses of 'risk', in order to demonstrate the importance of young people's lay accounts or 'situated vocabularies' of risk and everyday risk-taking behaviour. Furthermore, fieldwork has also highlighted the important link between risk and identity, especially, gendered identity construction. This will be discussed in terms of socially perceived risky identities, such as being a 'macho risk taker' or a young (single) mother and the importance of gendered risk discourses within the lives of these young people. This in turn raises issues of risk governance. As we begin to unpack the complexity that surrounds risk discourses and risky identities it becomes extremely difficult to understand or isolate specific areas of risk without situating them within young people's multidimensional lives, that is, the social, ideological and economic milieux within which they live and make sense of the world.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-233
JournalHealth, Risk and Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2001


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