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Title: The probation service and the governance of the offender : discourse, power and politics in the probation service in England and Wales
Author: Oldfield, Mark
ISNI:       0000 0001 3456 3299
Awarding Body: University of Kent at Canterbury
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2001
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The study is informed by Foucault's concept of 'governmentality' - the ways in which agencies and institutions attempt to shape the conduct of individuals in modem democracies. The study links this conception of governance to two major trains of political thought which, it is argued, characterise the ways in which twentieth century society in the United Kingdom has been organised. Given that modem society translates its political problems into 'tecimical' solutions through the use of various agencies such as probation, it is argued that the discourse of probation will reflect certain tenets of the salient political rationality at a particular time. The first such political rationality is identified as 'welfarism', an approach to government through a complex apparatus of expert agencies and practitioners charged with addressing the conduct of citizens across a wide ranging terrain of social and economic life. In contrast to this, a neo-liberal rationality, predicated upon individualism is depicted as having become increasingly influential since the late 1 970s, restructuring practice away from welfarist approaches that sought to provide services aimed at the creation of better citizens. The thesis of this study holds that the shift away from the welfarist rationality of governance will be reflected within the organisation and practice of the present day probation service. To determine the extent of this shift, probation discourse is analysed in tenns of its resonance with the tenets of welfarism and neo-liberalism. The study addresses organisational and epistemological discourse over the twentieth century using the texts and documents through which probation was debated, discussed and practised in order to map out the contours of welfarism and neo-liberalism. To determine the extent of contemporary change, a sample of presentence reports is analysed in terms of their correspondence with the two political rationalities. It is concluded that, whilst organisationally there has been a clear shift toward neo-liberalismn, probation practice still evidences certain approaches that are informed by a more welfarist discourse, suggesting a certain 'hybridity' of practice.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: K Law (General) ; KZ Law of Nations ; HM Sociology