Risk, responsibility and reconfiguration: penal adaptation and misadaptation

McNeill, F. , Burns, N. , Halliday, S., Hutton, N. and Tata, C. (2009) Risk, responsibility and reconfiguration: penal adaptation and misadaptation. Punishment and Society, 11(4), pp. 419-442. (doi:10.1177/1462474509341153)

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Abstract

This article draws on the findings of an ethnographic study of social enquiry and sentencing in the Scottish courts. It explores the nature of the practice of social enquiry (that is, of social workers preparing reports to assist sentencers) and explores the extent to which this practice is being reconfigured in line with the recent accounts of penal transformation. In so doing, we problematize and explore what we term the 'governmentality gap'; meaning, a lacuna in the existing penological scholarship which concerns the contingent relationships between changing governmental rationalities and technologies on the one hand and the construction of penality-in-practice on the other. The findings suggest that although policy discourses have, in many respects, changed in the way that these accounts elucidate and anticipate, evidence of changes in penal discourses and practices is much more partial. Drawing on Bourdieu, we suggest that this may be best understood not as a counter-example to accounts of penal transformation but as evidence of an incompleteness in their analyses which reflects the 'governmentality gap' and requires the development of more fully cultural penology drawing on ethnographies of penality.

Item Type:Articles
Keywords:Bourdieu, governmentality, probation, risk, sentencing
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Burns, Dr Nicola and McNeill, Professor Fergus
Authors: McNeill, F., Burns, N., Halliday, S., Hutton, N., and Tata, C.
Subjects:H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > General Practice and Primary Care
College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Sociology Anthropology and Applied Social Sciences
Journal Name:Punishment and Society
Publisher:Sage
ISSN:1462-4745
ISSN (Online):1741-3095
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2009 SAGE Publications
First Published:First published in Punishment and Society 11(4):419-442
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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