Giving compliance back: re-analysing and re-orientating the debate

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    It is common to describe people who hold important positions in society as ‘somebodies' and their inverse as ‘nobodies' - nonsensical terms, for we are all by necessity individuals with identities and comparable claims on existence. But such words are apt in conveying the variations in the quality of treatment meted out to different groups. Those without status remain unseen, they are treated brusquely, their complexities are trampled upon and their identities ignored. (2004:12) The above quotation, taken from Alain De Botton's (2004) text Status Anxiety, aptly captures the nonsense, the reality and (some of) the consequences of the differential treatments afforded to those routinely involved in contemporary criminal justice systems and processes. In this context, those with status typically include criminal justice policy makers, professionals and academics, and those without include both the victims and perpetrators of criminal activity. In this paper I wish to revisit the status afforded to offender actors in the context of community penalties, and more specifically in the increasingly salient context of compliance. I begin by charting the recent rise of compliance as an area of policy, practice and research interest within criminal justice contexts, while also acknowledging the virtual absence of any meaningful attention to the experience of those routinely engaged in compliance efforts (that is offenders themselves). I will then consider the contribution of Nils Christie's (1977) seminal paper: Conflicts as Property, as a potential framework for re-analysing the compliance dynamic and for re-orientating the compliance debate. In conclusion I advocate an approach to compliance policy, practice and research enquiry in which professionals take greater cognisance of their supporting role in compliance efforts and actively engage in a process of ‘giving compliance back'.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)27
    Number of pages30
    JournalEuro Vista: Probation and Community Justice
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2012


    • Compliance


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