On the cusp of recognition: using critical theory to promote desistance among young offenders

Monica Barry

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Theories of desistance increasingly acknowledge the need to engage with political and economic discourses beyond the criminal justice system. This article turns to the critical theory of Axel Honneth, Nancy Fraser and others to explore the relevance to criminology of the concepts of recognition and redistribution. Interview data from a Scottish study of youth offending and desistance illustrate the potential of these ideas in promoting desistance among young people in transition. The article concludes that desistance requires the restructuring of wider economic and social policy to ensure social justice for marginalised young people.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages6
JournalTheoretical Criminology
Issue number1
Early online date25 May 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2016


  • desistance
  • recognition
  • redistribution
  • youth offending
  • youth transitions

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