‘What the f**k Is Maturity?’: Young Adulthood, Subjective Maturity and Desistance From Crime

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This article contributes to the ‘dissection’ of maturation by advancing previously overlooked, subjective aspects of the concept. The article draws upon life story research with 20 young adults in Belfast, Northern Ireland. An analysis of their accounts and narratives highlights the importance of maturity as an adaptive narrative coping mechanism for young adults who are structurally disbarred from achieving normative expressions of adult status. The analysis further explores the relationship between subjective maturity and desistance from crime, indicating the potential risks that a selective criminal justice policy focus on an absence of maturity among 18–25-year-olds may have on young adults coming into contact with the criminal justice system.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1178-1198
Number of pages20
JournalBritish Journal of Criminology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2019



  • Maturity
  • Young adulthood
  • Desistance
  • Infantilization

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