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Accumulated Uneasiness – A Pathway towards Desistance among Delinquent Youth

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Despite the wealth of knowledge in desistance research on the meaning of growing discontent with one’s life situation and a perceived necessity of distancing oneself from a negative past, there is a research gap in explaining cases in which individuals mainly change for their own sake. This paper introduces the concept of accumulated uneasiness which adds to the reconstruction of plausible pathways towards desistance from delinquency. Twenty-nine qualitative interviews of young adults were analyzed. The findings suggest that delinquency and other immature behavior might lose their meaning in young adulthood due to internalized values and norms; a process which is intensified by and started due to an increasing feeling of accumulated uneasiness. The findings contribute to the discussion why desistance occurs at certain points in life and how internal and external motivation is interrelated in such processes.

Affiliations: 1: Institute for Interdisciplinary Research on Conflict and Violence, University of Bielefeld, Germany,


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