Struggles and Silences: Young People and the ‘Troubled Families Programme’

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Despite ‘troubled lives’ increasingly coming under the gaze of (powerful) others, our understanding of the issues at hand seems somewhat detached from the experiences of those subject to policy intervention. Due to the deficit model that presents ‘problem families’ as pathological, the voices of those that experience multiple disadvantages and severe material hardship are rarely heard, or, at worst, silenced. Within the context of hardening public attitudes that increasingly vilify the poor, understanding the connection between the personal and public is both timely and valuable. Drawing upon qualitative research, this paper seeks to listen to the voices of young people who currently reside within a ‘troubled family’. Through an exploration of how young people perceive their biographies, their status as ‘troubled’ or troublesome’, their relationships with significant others and their thoughts and feelings towards the future, we are able to recapture and reclaim contemporary depictions of ‘troubled lives’. Uncovering such lived experiences can also act as a springboard through which to explore how young lives (are likely to) unfold when interpreted against the background of restricted opportunities and social censure.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-153
Number of pages11
JournalSocial Policy and Society
Issue number1
Early online date5 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2017


  • Family support
  • child welfare
  • family intervention
  • youth policy

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