Media, politics and penal reform: the problem of women's imprisonment

Birkett, Gemma (2015). Media, politics and penal reform: the problem of women's imprisonment. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University London)

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Abstract

There has been limited empirical focus on the activities of the penal reform network in England and Wales, and less still concerned with those campaigning to reform women’s penal policy. Investigating the under-researched interrelationship between the women’s penal reform network, journalists, and policymakers at the crime-media nexus, this interdisciplinary study examines campaign strategies for women and how they have developed and augmented under changing governments and the media spotlight. While penal reform campaigners are able to rely on the discourse of vulnerability in relation to women offenders, this remains in the face of entrenched social constructions of the ‘ideal woman’ and a political climate that continues to talk tough on crime. Uncovering a number of inhibitors to their campaigning efforts, this study reveals that such actors operate on the periphery of both the media and policy agendas and campaign for a ‘lesser social problem’. Drawing on the work of Best (2013) and his research on social problems, claimsmakers and the policy agenda, this study also explores the agenda-setting models developed in the political sciences and media and communications. With unprecedented access to over thirty policy elites (including the Chief Executives of the major campaign organisations, former Prison Ministers, ex-civil servants from the Ministry of Justice, Members of the House of Lords and Commons, journalists, and a former Chief Inspector of Prisons) it integrates the viewpoints of key actors operating in this niche policy network for the very first time. With an explicit policy-focused orientation, it also provides a number of pragmatic and practical tips for those wishing to think more strategically about their ability to influence politicians, the media and the public.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: School of Social Sciences > Department of Sociology
URI: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/14049

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