Dying to live: Youth violence and the munpain

Yusef Bakkali

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article engages with accounts of the everyday experiences of young adults living in London who have been involved with road life (street culture) and how their narratives might help us to better understand issues of youth violence in the UK. Through an exploration of their experiences, this article argues that deeply embedded structural contradictions are leaving a generation of marginalised young people dying to live as they become locked in an existential struggle against a sense of malaise permeating many of their everyday experiences. These experiences of social suffering are conceptualised through ‘the munpain’. The munpain is a psychosocial concept which articulates the impact of structurally routed violence, inherent in late-modern neoliberal states, within the everyday lives of marginalised young adults living in a contemporary urban context. This article draws on interview data from two young men, Stephen and T, who have both been victims of knife crime and have spent much of their lives involved with youth groups self-identifying as gangs. In this article, I demonstrate some of the often unspoken struggles that saturate their lives. These experiences induce agentic responses as people seek to alleviate their suffering, at times affecting them in ways that lead to acts of violence. Moreover, I also elaborate on the inductive methodological approach employed to denote how ‘the munpain’ was developed while working alongside marginalised young adults.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1317-1332
JournalSociological Review
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2019


  • gangs
  • munpain
  • road culture
  • violence
  • youth


Dive into the research topics of 'Dying to live: Youth violence and the munpain'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this