Helen McFarlane


This thesis focuses upon the new rehabilitation of male prisoners within the context of idealised masculinity. Through the discourse analysis of written policy documents, this work addresses two fundamental questions: How is idealised masculinity constituted within political discourse and how does idealised masculinity influence the formulation of prison rehabilitation programmes? Idealised masculinity is defined as the heterosexual breadwinning role attributed to men as workers and providers for the family. It is this that is articulated within political discourses as a technique of government by which to reduce re-offending amongst the male prisoner population. Within the Foucauldian analysis of governmentality and Neo-Marxist theorising around Post-Fordism, idealised masculinity represent a form of governance that the state employs to inform its programme of managing the risks posed by offenders. This is evident through two particular pathways to reduce re-offending. Namely Pathway Two Education, Training and Employment and Pathway Six Children and Families. The argument presented is that current forms of punishment and imprisonment are characterised and defined within gender specific practices underpinned by the constitution of masculinity. The purpose of which is to reconstruct male prisoner’s attitudes and behaviour from that of deviant to non-deviant behaviour, from anti-social to pro-social values and through their moral and responsible reconstruction towards active, self-governing subjects. Thus the importance of maintaining family ties and the re-skilling and training of male prisoners to be able to compete within the labour market and obtain legitimate employment underpins political discourses surrounding penal concerns of the new rehabilitation. However governing at a distance and the state being unable or unwilling to place the children and family of offender’s on a formal footing and to effectively intervene to stimulate job creation activities within the labour market could mean that male prisoners are merely set up to fail.

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