Hostels - greenhouses or warehouses? An ethnographic and theoretical study of the origins, development and purposes of approved premises

Doctoral thesis English OPEN
Cowe, Francis Bartholomew
  • Subject: HM

This thesis explores the development of hostels / approved premises and considers the existence of an 'unexplored' past that may help cast light on their current purposes. Drawing on historical and theoretical domains it constructs a hinterland from which to undertake critical exploration of their current practices and possible futures. A staged ethnographic study of two hostels is offered, with a four year gap in between to allow consideration as to whether hostels are changing and whether wider policy shifts impacting on probation more generally, can be seen to be shaping hostels' possible future(s). Observations, interviews, engagement in both formal and informal meetings with staff, residents and managers have been used to develop a view of hostels from the underside of practice. Critical theorising and exploration of hostels' past has been located against both the wider social and political shifts that may be seen to have impacted on the rehabilitative and re-integrative role of the hostel, and the emerging themes emanating from the ethnographic work. Key points of discussion include: an argument for a longer history of hostels than is currently suggested, an exploration of the relationship between hostels and the wider probation service and criminal justice system, the centrality of re-integration to rehabilitation and the impact of new punitiveness on hostels' changing role and function at the start of the 21st century. It is argued that a retreat from integration of offenders into society and a devaluing of their social agency and moral worth is now at risk of becoming accepted as part of hostels' 'new' public protection role. Consideration is given to how staff and residents may be experiencing the 'risk driven' changes that are taking place and what wider implications this works findings may have for policy, practice and rehabilitative theory. An alternative penology is offered that both takes account of hostels past and acknowledges their changed clientele.
  • References (4)

    Circular of 20th of July, 1928, Issued to Justices - Youna Offenders, reproduced in Le Mesurier (1935:319-328).

    McConville, S (1981) A History of English Prison Administration. Volume 1: 1750- 1857. London, Routledge and Kegan Paul.

    McNeillie, F, M (1974) Margaret Frv 1874 - 1958 in Probation Journal Vol 21 , No 2: 77-79.

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