Constructing troubled youth in Danish research

Thomas Mackrill, Birgitte Hansson, Inge Birthe Storgaard Bonfils

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


This study explores how mental health and welfare issues among troubled youth were constructed by key research institutions in Denmark. We were curious about how dominant discourses affected our research and the discourses we were reproducing. A review of nine key reports concerning troubled youth from five Danish research institutions was therefore con-ducted based on a social constructionist approach. The reports employed different age ranges, designs and concepts to capture and construct troubled youth. We identified three overall discourses:1) a health, mental health and mental illness discourse with a rather individualized approach, 2) a broader discourse based on welfare, focusing on young person’s family, educational and relational context, and 3) a discourse where youth troubles were primarily framed in relation to structural conditions such as depen-dency on care services, or not being in employment, education, or training. The reports did not slot neatly into these categories. All the reports framed troubled youth in discourses relating to risk, though in different ways and with differing emphases. Thus, there appeared to be a dominant focus on risk factors. We discuss when dominant discourses regarding troubled youth will move beyond a risk focus and address access to youth interven-tions and the structural support systems available
Original languageEnglish
JournalNordic Social Work Research
Number of pages13
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 May 2023


  • children and youth
  • social work and social conditions

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