Intersectional individualization: toward a theoretical framework for youth transitioning out of the child welfare system

Rajendra Rambajue & Christopher O’Connor - Journal of Public Child Welfare


This article combines insights from Beck’s individualization theory and Crenshaw’s intersectionality theory to enhance understandings of why youth transitioning out of the child welfare system experience risk of poor outcomes. The lack of an adequate theoretical framework restricts our ability to understand the complex lives of these vulnerable youth. This paper argues that combining individualization and intersectionality theory provides a framework that recognizes how structural changes, social context, and multiple, intersecting identities shape care leavers’ experiences as they reflexively navigate systems of power and the risk of negative outcomes. This article concludes by discussing implications and recommendations for future work.