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Risk, resistance and the neoliberal agenda: young people, health and well-being in the UK, Canada and Australia

Brown, Sally; Shoveller, Jeannie; Chabot, Cathy; LaMontagne, Anthony D


Sally Brown

Jeannie Shoveller

Cathy Chabot

Anthony D LaMontagne


In this article we describe how concepts of risk are both generated by and used to reinforce a neoliberal agenda in relation to the health and well-being of young people. We examine how risk may be used as a tool to advance ideals such as rational choice and individual responsibility, and how this can further disadvantage young people living within the contexts of structural disadvantage (such as geographic areas of long term unemployment; communities that experience racial discrimination). We also identify the ways in which risk is applied in uneven ways within structurally disadvantaged contexts. To suggest a way forward, we articulate a set of principles and strategies that offer up a means of resisting neoliberal imperatives and suggest how these might play out at the micro-, meso- and macro-levels. To do this, we discuss examples from the UK, Canadian and Australian contexts to illustrate how young people resist being labelled as risky, and how it is possible to engage in health equity enhancing actions, despite seemingly deterministic forces. The cases we describe reveal some of the vulnerabilities (and hence opportunities) within the seemingly impenetrable world view and powers of neoliberals, and point towards the potential to formulate an agenda of resistance and new directions for young people’s health promotion.


Brown, S., Shoveller, J., Chabot, C., & LaMontagne, A. D. (2013). Risk, resistance and the neoliberal agenda: young people, health and well-being in the UK, Canada and Australia. Health, Risk and Society, 15, 333-346.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 12, 2013
Online Publication Date Jun 10, 2013
Publication Date Jun 10, 2013
Deposit Date Apr 20, 2016
Publicly Available Date Apr 20, 2016
Print ISSN 1369-8575
Electronic ISSN 1469-8331
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 15
Pages 333-346
Keywords Risk; health policy; neoliberal shifts; young people's health;
structural disadvantage/social inequities;
Public URL
Publisher URL