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Time to look in/at anger: considerations on the position and policing of young people’s anger

Duffy, DN (2016) Time to look in/at anger: considerations on the position and policing of young people’s anger. Journal of Youth Studies, 20 (1). pp. 1-15. ISSN 1367-6261


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Mental and emotional well-being is steadily overtaking physical difficulty as the biggest health challenge facing young people. As a result, young people’s emotional well-being and needs are a significant concern within contemporary youth studies. However, the intricacies of ‘managing emotion’ have been somewhat neglected in the context of youth studies. In particular, the role of discourses of emotional well-being to produce ‘feeling rules’ [Boler, M. 1999. Feeling Power: Emotions and Education. Florence, KY: Routledge], to discipline, and to restrict expressions of emotion has been unconsidered. This article explores this problematic further with the intention of provoking a larger concentration on relationship between the policing of emotion and youth well-being discourses. Specifically, it focuses on anger as one of the emotions that young people are encouraged to move away from. It outlines how young people’s right to be angry is policed through the construction of angry subjectivities as characterised by incompleteness. It focuses on two – the unresolved subject and the unreasoned subject. Young people, who are already constructed as incomplete, are particularly vulnerable to this policing. Drawing on a range of theoretical interjections on the disciplining of ‘adult’ anger, the article explores the political importance of anger, how it is limited for young people, and the complexities of engaging with anger in the context of youth studies. Given the limited attention anger has attracted in youth studies literature, the article is intentionally provocative. However, as the article notes, this is a complex debate with many challenges and a much more detailed investigation is necessary.

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