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Title: Accomplishing being ordinary : identity talk of people conditionally-discharged from secure forensic settings
Author: Coffey, Michael
Awarding Body: Swansea University
Current Institution: Swansea University
Date of Award: 2008
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This study examines the stories of offenders discharged from forensic psychiatry facilities and currently being supported by professional workers in the community. Through the use of in-depth interviews with conditionallydischarged persons, community mental health nurses and social workers, the process of discharge and reintegration was investigated. Analysis of audiorecorded and transcribed talk focused upon the action-oriented nature of accounts related to the experience of discharge and community return, and the attempts of former in-patients to construct viable identities in the outside world. Interview talk is used by social actors for self-interested purposes. Talk in interaction works to accomplish more than accounts of events past, it also achieves identity orientations. Labels signifying mental illness and criminality can present enduring identity-threats to people leaving forensic in-patient settings. As they adjust to return to the community, individuals deploy particular types of identity talk to neutralise ascriptions of continuing deviant identity and make claims to normality. They face special challenges in accounting for past behaviours, while also laying claim to normal lives. It was found that notions of past sickness were often used to mitigate responsibility and counter inferences of continuing criminality. Service users made reference to commonsense understandings of recovery to distance themselves from the behaviours and situations that had led to detention. Displays of ordinariness were worked-up in talk through multiple stages that involved establishing the credibility and authenticity of accounts, creating distance and difference from others with similar labels and claiming normative roles. They constructed new identities that worked to resist dominant professional discourses but nevertheless were resolutely mundane. In their day-to-day lives the accomplishment of 'ordinary' identities was a continuing and necessary task in securing successful community return.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available