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Title: The role of migration, belonging and identity in the desistance narratives of migrant ex-offenders in England and Wales
Author: Bajo, Merlinda A.
ISNI:       0000 0005 0287 5617
Awarding Body: Kingston University
Current Institution: Kingston University
Date of Award: 2020
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This thesis is a qualitative study of migration, belonging and identity in the desistance narratives of migrant ex-offenders in England and Wales. Existing research on desistance has comprehensively explored how various components are central to the process of ceasing offending; these include age, familial ties, employment, education, social connections and social support, socio-economic status before and after release from prison, life circumstances, faith, preparation before being released, and future plans (Glueck and Glueck, 1951; Bruner, 1987; Laub and Sampson 2001, 2003; Maruna, 2001; Giordano et al., 2002; Gadd and Farrall, 2004; Farrall, 2004; Giordano et al., 2008; Healy, 2010; McNeil, 2014). A significant body of recent work argues that successful desistance often involves not only particular social attachments, but also identity change, usually termed ‘secondary desistance’. There is now a range of work that explores the development of secondary desistance through the form of life narratives (Maruna, 2001; Piquero, 2004; Ezel and Cohen, 2005; Pals, 2006; Massoglia and Uggen, 2007; Vaughan, 2007; McNeil, 2014). This research suggests that a central part of this process is the ability to explain away periods of offending, and to separate off this old, offending identity from a new, non-offending identity. In order to develop our understanding of the relationship between life narrative, identity transformation and the process of ceasing offending, this thesis explores the narratives of migrant ex-offenders seeking to desist from crime. In recent years, the demographics of the UK prison population have changed significantly, with 14% of inmates (Allen and Watson, 2017) now consisting of non-UK nationals or foreign-born prisoners. Thus, recent research has emphasised the specificity of the experience of migrant prisoners, both in the UK and across Europe (Bosworth et al., 2016). This thesis therefore explores the ways in which migrant ex-offenders narrate their desistance journey, their sense of belonging and their identity, as they enable the creation of a new non-offending identity. This is explored through narrative interviews, which are analysed thematically, allowing examination of the ways in which migrants narrate their past experiences and relate them to their desistance process. The sample consists of 15 male migrant ex-offenders, both foreign nationals and foreign-born UK nationals. Drawing on these interviews, the thesis argues that the dislocating experience of migration functions in their narratives as an explanation for offending, whereas becoming settled and established is the route to a new identity. Central to this process is the narration of a ‘functional’ sense of belonging and identification, which is connected to particular social support networks and roles; this helps the participants to construct a non-offending identity and a sense of purpose, defined by hope for a future life without crime.
Supervisor: Dodsworth, Francis ; Herbert, David Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: desistance of migrants ; belonging ; identity ; migrants