An Intersectional Analytical Critique of the Troubled Families Programme in Cornwall This thesis provides an intersectional analytical critique of the Troubled Families (TF) Programme in Cornwall, a county which is amongst the most deprived in Northern Europe (ONS, 2017). The TF Programme was launched in England in 2012 in an effort to ‘turn around’ the lives of ‘troubled’ families, in response to the urban riots of August 2011 (RCVP, 2012). While interim evaluations of the Programme have recognised that many ‘troubled’ families are in income poverty (MHCLG, 2019c), the official TF policy documentation does not acknowledge how ‘troubled’ families’ abilities to achieve positive outcomes are impacted by the challenging socio-economic and service delivery context (DWP, 2017), but I found these to be very significant. My intersectional analytical approach privileges the knowledge of those on the margins, for political, ethical as well as epistemological reasons (Hartsock, 2004); therefore, I prioritised the standpoint epistemologies and experiences of families framed as ‘troubled’ as the basis for meaningful critique of the TF Programme. I conducted semi structured interviews with six families and 38 Service Managers and TF Key Workers involved in the TF Programme in Cornwall. I critiqued how the ‘troubled’ families’ and TF Key Workers’ perspectives were ignored by those in power, leading to epistemic deficiency, where the conceptual framework of what it is to be ‘troubled’ was based on knowledge that was incomplete and therefore flawed, because these key perspectives were not included in the development of that framework. Service Managers and TF Key Workers reported that the TF policy and Programme delivery context was disempowering; budget cuts to statutory and VCSE sector services under the austerity agenda had significantly impacted on their ability to provide a package of support to families. In terms of my contribution to the conceptual framework of what it is to be ‘troubled’ in the UK, I found that the families’ lives were characterised by myriad intersectional challenges. While there was some very important and impactful support work being done by very committed TF Key Workers, in real terms the TF Programme did very little to address the underlying intersectional causes of what it was to be ‘troubled’ and living in poverty in Cornwall. My conclusion was that instead of continuing to locate the problem within ‘troubled’ families, government efforts should focus on proactively engaging with the standpoint epistemologies of those experiencing ‘troubles’ and using this knowledge as the starting point for addressing the disempowering structures, processes and attitudes that make it very difficult for many families to achieve good outcomes.

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Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License.