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This article investigates the social and moral dimensions of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) diagnosis, asking what ADHD means in UK children's everyday lives, and what children do with this diagnosis. Drawing on interviews with over 150 children, the analysis examines the influence of a UK state school-based culture of aggression on the form and intensity of diagnosed children's difficulties with behavioral self-control. Diagnosed children's mobilization of ADHD behaviors and their exploitation of the diagnosis shows how children's active moral agency can support and compromise cognitive, behavioral and social resilience. The findings support a proposal for a complex sociological model of ADHD diagnosis and demonstrate the relevance of this model for national policy initiatives related to mental health and wellbeing in children.

Original publication




Journal article


Soc Sci Med

Publication Date





889 - 896


Adolescent, Aggression, Anger, Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity, Central Nervous System Stimulants, Child, Family, Female, Humans, Male, Morals, Prejudice, Schools, Social Support, Sociology, Medical, United Kingdom