• Nina Freimann Jensen
4. term, Social Work, Master (Master Programme)
The Danish Prison and Probation Service has a policy goal of securing participation of inmates in their own rehabilitation through the use of action plans. Based on a lack of studies exploring if and how inmates participate in the work with the action plan, the analytical focus of this thesis is twofold. Firstly, it is examined how the action plan works as a technique to govern inmates towards policy goals and how the policy ambitions are formed in practice when affected by the institutional context. Secondly, it is examined how inmates act and govern themselves in the negotiation the action plan establishes. The purpose is to explore the way the governing unfolds in practice and how inmates participate in the work with the action plan.

The empirical data to support the analysis is a qualitative study based on formal documents and interviews with seven inmates. The interviews are on a smaller scale combined in a mixed method design with quantitative data from a user survey carried out in Danish prisons by the Danish Prison and Probation Service. The empirical data thus mainly has the perspective of the inmates and give information about how they perceive the participation and the possibilities of cooperating on the action plan.

The theoretical perspective of the thesis takes its outset in the theoretical frame Foucault introduces in his work on governmentality. With Foucault’s view on power relations and subjection, it is analysed how the action plan works as a technique that seeks to govern inmates through the combination of power technologies and self-technologies towards the goal of normalisation. Afterwards it is examined how the governing through the technique unfolds in practice and how inmates view the participation and respond to the governing.

The study shows how governing is an unpredictable, multiform activity which is formed by the context and the subjects that are objects of the governing. The main results indicate that the context of the prison has substantial influence on the possibility of practicing governing through the individualising, pastoral power. The disciplinary power acts as a frame that sometimes supports and sometimes prevents the action plan from governing the inmates. The study highlights the importance of the staff as practitioners of pastoral and disciplinary power, through which they can strengthen or inhibit the function of the action plan. The study also shows that the way the staff applicate the tool is essential to the possibilities of inmates to participate in the cooperation and the subjection. It is therefore also significant in relation to achieving the goal of normalization and giving inmates a possibility to take part in the planning of their rehabilitation.

Results regarding the way inmates govern themselves in the participation in the action plan, show a variety of possibilities for the inmates to seek influence and to reach their own goals through participation. Inmates, who have goals that match those of the governing, seem to welcome the method of the action plan. The study also shows that through self-governance inmates have a room to pursue own agendas and ideas without refusing the terms of the action plan. Thus they can appear on the surface to cooperate, but are instead using the action plan to obtain benefits and pursue own goals. Inmates also have the freedom to dismiss the action plan as a governing technique by not connecting their self-governance to that of the action plan.

A substantial point, which becomes visible through the two-sided focus on the governing, is that inmates, who want to cooperate and pursue the goals of the governing, depend on the possibilities to connect to the plan. This highlights the importance of the staff in securing constructive dialogue and cooperation.
Publication date2017
ID: 259236630