Hot times, hot places. Youths’ risk perceptions and risk management in Chicago and Rotterdam

Kirsten Visser*, Florian Sichling, Robert J. Chaskin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Many young people in low-income neighbourhoods are considered to be at risk of poor social outcomes and of becoming victims of violence and crime. This exploratory study focuses on how young people perceive risk and navigate their environment in two low-income, multi-ethnic neighbourhoods, one in Rotterdam and one in Chicago. We conducted in-depth interviews and mental mapping exercises with young people aged 14–19 in both sites. We found that neighbourhoods matter because they expose young people to certain kinds of risks, but also that their responses were shaped by their perceptions and interpretations of these risks. Moreover, we illustrate the dynamic and interactive nature of these processes of risk perception and management by discussing the ways in which different groups occupy and use, or travel through, public space at different times of the day. We argue that risk in disadvantaged neighbourhoods is not a static dimension in young people’s lives but rather emerges from an ongoing and complex interaction between perception, interpretation and response that can be seen as a kind of boundary work.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)763-779
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Youth Studies
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 28 Dec 2016


  • deprived neighbourhoods
  • risk management
  • Risk perceptions
  • youth


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