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Marketisation and Privatisation in Criminal Justice$
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Kevin Albertson, Mary Corcoran, and Jake Phillips

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781447345701

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447345701.001.0001

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Understanding the privatisation of probation through the lens of Bourdieu’s field theory

Understanding the privatisation of probation through the lens of Bourdieu’s field theory

(p.59) 4 Understanding the privatisation of probation through the lens of Bourdieu’s field theory
Marketisation and Privatisation in Criminal Justice

Jake Phillips

Policy Press

This chapter contributes to the growing body of criminological work to use Bourdieu’s field theory to understand changes in policy and practice in criminal justice. The chapter uses the privatisation of probation services in England and Wales as a case study to argue that although probation practitioners vociferously opposed the reforms, their attempts to prevent them were always unlikely to succeed. This is because Transforming Rehabilitation needs to be understood as the culmination of a longstanding process of symbolic violence which resulted in the depreciation of relevant forms of capital amongst practitioners and their allies. The chapter begins with a brief overview of the reforms before turning to a discussion of Bourdieu’s field theory. I argue that because ‘capital’ links field and habitus – in that capital is the product of the way in which habitus and field are, or are not, attuned to one another – this is an important mechanism of field theory which has, hitherto, been neglected. I argue that as probation practitioners’ habitus has remained relatively stable over the last fifty years, the changing field led to a delegitimation of the forms of capital owned by practitioners which left them unable to mount a successful defence of a public probation service.

Keywords:   Privatisation, Probation, Bourdieu, Field Theory, Transforming Rehabilitation, Symbolic Violence

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