Three men in a boat : documenting the internal colony in British social policy
The thesis presented here constructs a challenge to our
understanding of the society we live in. It confronts our capacity to
revise and re-interpret our history in such a way as to obscure, if not
eliminate, that which we deem inappropriate, uncomfortable, or
It is further contended that this tendency to ahistoricism is a feature
of official discourse. The state is complicit in the process and a
principal architect of the structure of knowledge that imbues the
process with authority.
This thesis contributes to our knowledge and understanding of the
discursive strategies of the state by creating a theoretical
framework that facilitates the critical analysis of official documents.
By locating the authors, their textual productions, and their readers
in time and space, it becomes possible, as it were, to read between
the lines and recognise the retum effect on domestic govemance
of the technologies of domination developed abroad.
The purpose here is not to liberate the subjugated knowledges of
the welfare recipient, the immigrant, or the raCially oppressed, but
to critique the creativity of state power in producing, annexing, and
eliminating identity within the context of the nation-state.
Three documents have been selected as exemplars of the extent
to which a colonising mentality, a way of understanding social
relations born of colonial rule, continues to permeate social policy
in both its formulation and documentation. The Scarman report
(1981), the Griffiths report (1988), and the Macpherson report (1999)
taken together articulate a post-modern thematic of difference. By
focusing, as they do. on the Other within the body politic, these
documents reveal a great deal about the Self that organises English