Staying inside: social withdrawal of the young, Finnish ‘Hikikomori’

Hanna Mari Husu, Vesa Välimäki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


This article explores socially withdrawn young Finnish people on an Internet forum who identify with the Japanese hikikomori phenomenon. We aim to overcome the dualism between sociology and psychology found in earlier research by referring to Pierre Bourdieu, who provides insights into how individual choices are constructed in accordance with wider social settings. We focus on the individual level and everyday choices, but we suggest that psychological factors (anxiety, depression) can be seen as properties of social relations rather than as individual states of mind, as young adults have unequal access to valued resources. We scrutinise young people’s specific reasoning related to the social and psychological factors and contingent life events that influence their choice to withdraw. An experience of inadequacy, a feeling of failure and a lack of self-efficacy are common experiences in the data. This indicates that young adults who identify with the hikikomori phenomenon find external society demanding and consider themselves lacking resources such as education, social networks or the personality type that they see as valued in society and as essential to ‘survival’. They also feel that they cannot control their life events, which may mean that they receive little help in their everyday lives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)605-621
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Youth Studies
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 28 May 2017
Externally publishedYes
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Bourdieu
  • hikikomori
  • social exclusion
  • social withdrawal
  • youth studies


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