Condemned to precarity? Criminalised youths, social enterprise and the sub-precariat

Sarah Soppitt*, Rebecca Oswald, Samantha Walker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
50 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: The paper aims to consider whether social enterprise, who are growing in number and seemingly a politically popular alternative to mainstream employment are a potential conduit for social change. Discussions relating to the value of (stable) employment in reducing and preventing (re)offending are not new. For many ex-offenders, a multitude of barriers stand between them and access to the labour market. As a potential conduit for social change, social enterprises are a growing and seemingly politically popular alternative to mainstream employment. Design/methodology/approach: Focusing on the qualitative lived experiences of young people (aged between 16 and 18) with criminal convictions enrolled in one such enterprise, this paper examines the extent to which work-integrated social enterprise can assist in overcoming existing barriers to the labour market. Findings: The paper highlights the value of social enterprise(s) in addressing the complex needs and precarities of criminalised youths, promoting social inclusion and assisting with progression into future employment. The paper also discusses the limitations of social enterprise(s) in overcoming external structural barriers to meaningful employment for those with an offending history and the implications for young people who aspire to more than precariat work. Originality/value: Justice-orientated social enterprises are allowing young people with criminal records the opportunity to build social capita and access precarious work, previously unattainable for many. By focusing on the concept of “precarity”, this paper builds upon existing research on the collateral consequences of criminal convictions offering insights into the various challenges facing criminalised youths attempting to build a positive pro-social work identity within contemporary labour markets

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)470-488
Number of pages19
JournalSocial Enterprise Journal
Issue number3
Early online date28 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2022


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