Critical Criminology

, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 463–476 | Cite as

Young White British Men and Knife-Carrying in Public: Discourses of Masculinity, Protection and Vulnerability

  • Marek Palasinski
  • Damien W. Riggs


Whilst quantitative research to date gives us some indication of the prevalence at which knife-carrying occurs among young British men, there have been few explanations for why it occurs, and for what the relationship might be between broader social issues of control and power and the behaviours of young men themselves. Drawing on interviews with 16 young white British men, the present paper explores the ways in which the sample accounted for knife-carrying. Two interpretative repertoires were identified: (1) attributions of blame to authorities for a lack of protection and a subsequent justification of knife-carrying, and (2) discussions of masculinity in relation to knife-carrying. The findings suggest that what is required are policy and practice responses that take into account the symbolic functions of knives for young white men, and which recognise the dilemmatic bind that such men are caught in when they attempt to negotiate competing demands of protection and control.


Public Awareness Campaign Discursive Strategy Street Violence Interpretative Repertoire Circuitous Route 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyLancaster UniversityLancasterUK
  2. 2.School of Social Policy PlanningFlinders UniversityAdelaideAustralia

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