The Role of Intensive Family Support in the Governance of Anti-Social Behaviour

Parr, Sadie (2010). The Role of Intensive Family Support in the Governance of Anti-Social Behaviour. PhD thesis The Open University.



In seeking to make sense of the role of intensive family support in the governance of anti-social behaviour, this thesis has focused analytical attention on one case study project, the Family Support Service. Based on data collected from 35 interviews with women receiving the service, project staff and local agents, the research findings suggest that intensive family support is a complex intervention with both positive consequences as well as negative costs for the families involved. The Family Support Service entailed intense surveillance and supervision of marginalised populations in domestic private spaces and did, therefore, have controlling and disciplinary qualities, particularly with regard to the families living in 'core' residential accommodation. Yet, in spite of this, the Family Support Service also contained a -significant social welfare ethos based on finding long term sustainable solutions to individual's problems, not least security of housing and income. The approach project workers took with families was, largely, non-stigmatising and sensitive, and for the women interviewed,, who were socially isolated and susceptible to depression, this 'befriending' role was important in improving their quality of life. The role that family support plays, however, in the governance of anti-social behaviour is inherently bound up with the way in which it is implemented at the local level and the particular circumstances of the families involved, which suggests that positing intensive family support as inherently 'bad' or 'good' is inaccurate. This challenges some of the more critical literature around New Labour's anti-social behaviour and family support policies and suggests that this type of intervention can not be understood simply as a project of exclusion, punishment or moral reformation. The thesis argues for further research about what it is that gives rise to less punitive types of family intervention and, therefore, how progressive change for vulnerable families might be generated.

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