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Investigating support, sanctioning and behaviour change mechanisms in family-based interventions

Ball, Emily (2017) Investigating support, sanctioning and behaviour change mechanisms in family-based interventions. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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This thesis investigates the use of conditionality mechanisms in family-based intensive interventions in England to achieve behaviour change in families who are perceived to exhibit problematic conduct in society. Conditionality can be defined as a contractual relationship based on ideas of social responsibility, where the citizen receives social assistance from the state, which is reciprocated by practices of positive behaviour change by the citizen (Dwyer, 2004; Deacon, 2004). The use of intensive intervention projects to challenge problematic behaviour in families has been a key strategy in social and family policy in England since 1997, however similar models of intensive case work approaches were used during the 1940s (Ball et al, 2016; Starkey, 2002). Intensive interventions are based on a key worker model and can be described as a holistic approach to support all family members in order to tackle the root causes of problems that are costly to society. However, if the family does not engage with the project they risk being subject to penalties (Flint, 2011a). When the Conservative-Coalition Government was elected in 2010 there was some ambiguity as to whether the use of intensive interventions would continue (Nixon et al, 2010). However, the 2011 urban riots appeared to be a trigger for David Cameron, the Prime Minister at the time, to reinstate a need for people to take responsibility, which could be learnt through the morals, values and routines that are embedded within paid labour (Arthur, 2015). Alongside ongoing welfare reform, the Troubled Families Programme was launched in 2012 and claimed it would ‘grip’ families and their problems and ‘make’ them change their behaviour by using enforcement if necessary (DCLG, 2012). This thesis explores the extent to which an intensive intervention project can ‘make’ individuals change their behaviour, and if so, by what means this may be achieved. The research has used a qualitative and longitudinal methodology and has explored the interactions between families engaged with, and the practitioners employed by different service providers in a large northern English city. Part of the methodology involved following 10 families subject to interventions over a seven-month period, in order to capture the micro-processes of behaviour change. The findings of the research are framed and analysed using Foucault’s conceptualisation of disciplinary power traditionally associated with projects of this nature (Garrett, 2007a; 2007b). This research found that existing governance logics are present in these intervention practices, but there are interesting nuances in the practitioner-family relationship that are not explored in existing academic critiques of governance and social control. However, despite these nuances that centre on the complex interaction between individual agency and practitioner authority, punitive tools (rather than supportive mechanisms) which can be used to influence behaviour though conditionality, can nevertheless, have profound effects on the lives of society’s most marginalised families and these raise ethical implications about the current direction of contemporary welfare policy.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > Urban Studies and Planning (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.737869
Depositing User: Dr Emily Ball
Date Deposited: 26 Mar 2018 08:58
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2018 09:53
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/19815

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