Governing marginalised women: Gendered dimensions of the ‘carceral-assistential net’

POVEY, Larissa (2022). Governing marginalised women: Gendered dimensions of the ‘carceral-assistential net’. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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This doctoral thesis examines the dual penal and welfare aims or ‘arms’ of the ‘state’, foregrounding the often-neglected experiences of marginalised women who are caught between these two mechanisms of governance. This thesis re-examines Wacquant’s (2009a) conceptualisation of the state and addresses gaps in our understanding of how marginalised women experience and respond to penal and welfare interventions aimed at poor and ‘problematic’ populations. By centring the experiences of marginalised women this thesis highlights how they experience punishment differently to men throughout the life course, this difference is most obvious when it comes to the surveillance and management of pregnant bodies, birth and child removal. Findings are based on a combination of in-depth qualitative interviews, participant-generated photographs and subsequent photo-elicitation interviews with 23 women accessing day centre services in the community in two northern English cities. It is also based on semi-structured qualitative interviews with 13 women working within the day centre organisations. Data was generated by drawing on feminist-informed modes of inquiry and analysis. This thesis makes an important contribution to debates on the efficacy and ethicality of recurrent child removal, and the threat of it, from poor and ‘vulnerable’ mothers. It advances our understanding of how the state and in particular street-level organisations can be conceptualised, particularly important as the boundaries between the state, private sector and third sector become increasingly blurred in the provision of welfare and criminal justice services and interventions. It also furthers our understanding of the day centres, that marginalised women engage with, and their hybridity in form, function and the way that they are experienced, in that they act as marginal welfare services of last resort for those unable to access mainstream socio-welfare provision while also being extensions of the (penal) state. This thesis shows how women, often ignored or side-lined in contemporary theories on the governance of the poor, experience the tutelary and therapeutic mechanisms of the state. Rarely has the cumulative nature of the adversities marginalised women face over the life course been documented and explored in this way and the state’s role within these processes examined. The use of creative and participatory research methods, and the presentation of data in case vignettes and lifeline diagrams provides novel means of collecting and synthesising the complex and detailed qualitative empirical data. This thesis demonstrates the collective and cumulative struggles of a specific group of marginalised women who have been abandoned and then criminalised by the state either for their failures as mothers, coming into conflict with the law or both.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Thesis advisor - Fletcher, Del [0000-0002-9569-3203] (Affiliation: Sheffield Hallam University)
Thesis advisor - Crisp, Richard [0000-0002-3097-8769] (Affiliation: Sheffield Hallam University)
Thesis advisor - Gore, Tony (Affiliation: Sheffield Hallam University)
Additional Information: Director of studies: Prof. Del Roy Fletcher / Supervisors: Dr. Richard Crisp and Dr. Tony Gore
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Colin Knott
Date Deposited: 01 Mar 2024 15:43
Last Modified: 02 Mar 2024 02:01

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