‘Steeling’ young people: Resilience and youth policy in Scotland

Emma Davidson*, Eric Carlin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This article examines the growth of resilience-focused youth policy in Scotland, and its association with the proliferation of the ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) agenda. To do this, it critically compares policy discourse with qualitative data on young people’s experiences of growing up in two similar, low-income neighbourhoods. This combination leads us to problematise resilience-informed practice, relative to the voices of young people. Our review demonstrates that by emphasising individual protective factors, resilience discourse reframes inequalities embedded within certain neighbourhoods, and the specific impacts on young people who live there. The consequence is not an assets-based youth policy that supports all young people, but rather a form of resilience which promotes the ‘steeling’ of young people; making them stronger and more resistant to adversities. These adversities, we conclude, may be preventable within a more just social order.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)479-489
Number of pages11
JournalSocial Policy and Society
Issue number3
Early online date22 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • adverse childhood experiences
  • resilience
  • young people
  • poverty
  • Scotland


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