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Article
Publication date: 12 September 2017

Azrini Wahidin and Jason Powell

The purpose of this paper is to critically explore the importance of the experiences of female former combatants during the Irish Conflict, colloquially known as “The…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to critically explore the importance of the experiences of female former combatants during the Irish Conflict, colloquially known as “The Troubles” and outline key moments of resistance for female political prisoners during their time at Armagh jail. The paper will situate the analysis within a Foucauldian framework drawing on theoretical tools for understanding power, resistance and subjectivity to contextualise and capture rich narratives and experiences. What makes a Foucauldian analysis of former female combatants of the Conflict so inspiring is how the animation and location of problems of knowledge as “pieces” of the larger contest between The State, institutions of power and its penal subjects (ex-female combatants as prisoners). The paper has demonstrated that the body exists through and in culture, the product of signs and meanings, of discourse and practices.

Design/methodology/approach

This is primarily qualitative methodology underpinned by Foucauldian theory. There were 28 women and 20 men interviewed in the course of this research came from across Ireland, some came from cities and others came from rural areas. Some had spent time in prisons in the UK and others served time in the Republic of Ireland or in the North of Ireland. Many prisoners experienced being on the run and all experienced levels of brutality at the hands of the State. Ethical approval was granted from the Queens University Research Committee.

Findings

This paper only examines the experiences of female ex-combatants and their narratives of imprisonment. What this paper clearly shows through the narratives of the women is the gendered nature of imprisonment and the role of power, resilience and resistance whilst in prison in Northern Ireland. The voices in this paper disturb and interrupt the silence surrounding the experiences of women political prisoners, who are a hidden population, whilst in prison.

Research limitations/implications

In terms of research impact, this qualitative research is on the first of its kind to explore both the experiential and discursive narratives of female ex-combatants of the Irish Conflict. The impact and reach of the research illustrates how confinement revealed rich theoretical insights, drawing from Foucauldian theory, to examine the dialectical interplay between power and the subjective mobilisation of resistance practices of ex-combatants in prison in Northern Ireland. The wider point of prison policy and practice not meeting basic human rights or enhancing the quality of life of such prisoners reveals some of the dystopian features of current prison policy and lack of gender sensitivity to female combatants.

Practical implications

It is by prioritising the voices of the women combatants in this paper that it not only enables their re-positioning at the centre of the struggle, but also moves away methodologically from the more typical sole emphasis on structural conditions and political processes. Instead, prioritising the voices of the women combatants places the production of subjectivities and agencies at the centre, and explores their dialectical relationship to objective conditions and practical constraints.

Social implications

It is clear from the voices of the female combatants and in their social engagement in the research that the prison experience was marked specifically by assaults on their femininity, to which they were the more vulnerable due to the emphasis on sexual modesty within their socialisation and within the ethno-nationalist iconography of femininity. The aggression directed against them seems, in part, to have been a form of gender-based sexual violence in direct retaliation for the threat posed to gender norms by their assumption of the (ostensibly more powerful) role as combatants. They countered this by methods which foregrounded their collective identity as soldiers and their identification with their male comrades in “the same struggle”.

Originality/value

This paper is one of the first to explore the importance of the experiences of female former combatants during the Northern Irish Conflict with specific reference to their experience of imprisonment. The aim of this significant paper is to situate the critical analysis grounded in Foucauldian theory drawing on theoretical tools of power, resistance and subjectivity in order to make sense of women’s experiences of conflict and imprisonment in Ireland. It is suggested that power and resistance need to be re-appropriated in order to examine such unique gendered experiences that have been hidden in mainstream criminological accounts of the Irish Conflict.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 37 no. 9/10
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 2004

Azrini Wahidin and Dot Moss

This article discusses themes emerging from two independent research projects. In order to understand how women negotiate and transgress time frames, we critically explore…

Abstract

This article discusses themes emerging from two independent research projects. In order to understand how women negotiate and transgress time frames, we critically explore and make visible the strategies used by two very different groups, who are placed in different locales and time orderings. The first group are women in later life and in prison and the second group, women students in higher education. It is by inserting the words of women into debates on time, agency and space that we are able to make visible the strategies that women harness in order to do, make and reclaim time. Within this article we discuss the different research strategies employed by the authors. First, we look at conceptualisations of time and gender. Then we discuss how these respectively inform our research. Azrini Wahidin discusses the role and meaning of time in relation to how female elders in prison come to understand and simultaneously negotiate coercive time use in prison and the passing of time on the outside. She focuses on how the strictures of disciplinary time and the lack of choice create innovative ways of negotiating and resisting the disciplining of institution time in prison. Dot Moss discusses the everyday practice and experience of women students, who, in contrast, have relative freedom to time‐structure their day. She focuses on the ways in which space and time to study are both socially and personally constructed out of other’s time and time for other things (Davies 1990). Common themes arising in relation to the analysis of gender and time are then discussed.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 24 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

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Article
Publication date: 1 December 2004

Azrini Wahidin and Jason Powell

Drawing from Foucault’s methodological terms of archaeology and genealogy this article critically engages with understanding the inter‐relationship between old age and…

Abstract

Drawing from Foucault’s methodological terms of archaeology and genealogy this article critically engages with understanding the inter‐relationship between old age and prison life.We draw out the relevance of a Foucauldian paradigm for investigating how penal discourses and actual prisoners experiences exemplify issues of power, knowledge and surveillance in institutional settings. We draw out how violence impinges on the lives of older people in prisons by pointing out the implications of such experiences for both a critical ontology and epistemology of ageing. It is by transgressing the boundaries of the conventional understanding of the prison and by casting a critical gaze that will gain greater understanding of how elder abuse in secure settings goes unregulated.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 24 no. 12
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

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The Journal of Adult Protection, vol. 8 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1466-8203

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Article
Publication date: 25 April 2008

Jason L. Powell and Azrini Wahidin

The purpose of paper is to shine light on the under‐theorised relationship between old age and victmisation. In classical criminological studies, the relationship between…

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of paper is to shine light on the under‐theorised relationship between old age and victmisation. In classical criminological studies, the relationship between “age”, victimisation and crime has been dominated by analysis of younger people's experiences. This paper aims to address this knowledge deficit by exploring older people's experiences by linking it to the social construction of vulnerability.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper explores both historical and contemporary narratives relating to the diverse experiences of older people as victims in the UK. In particular, from 1945 to the present, statistical context and theoretical advancement illuminates that older people as a social group have a deep “fear of crime” to their relative victimisation.

Findings

A careful survey of the criminological literature highlights a paucity of research relating to older people's views and experiences of crime and victimisation. The conceptual issue of vulnerability in different contexts is important in understanding ageing and victimisation in UK. The paper's findings illustrate that their experiences have remained marginalised in the debates around social policy, and how the criminal justice system responds to these changes remains yet to be seen.

Research limitations/implications

Any research attempt at theorising “age” should take into consideration not just younger people, but also the diverse experiences of older people. Policy makers may care to ponder that benchmarks be written that takes into full consideration of older people's experiences as vulnerability.

Practical implications

For criminal justice scholars and practitioners, there is a need to listen to the narratives of older people that should help shape and frame debate about their lived experiences. There should be an examination of existing formal and informal practices regarding elders, as the first step in developing an explicit and integrated set of policies and programmes to address the special needs of this group.

Originality/value

This is an original paper in highlighting how important old age is in construction of “victims” in modern society. By theorising age, victimisation and crime it is hoped to dispel and challenge some of the myths surrounding later life, crime and the older victim.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 28 no. 3/4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

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Article
Publication date: 1 August 2005

Jason L. Powell and Azrini Wahidin

This article explores the concept of ‘risk’ that is both an epistemological tool and major facet of “late modernity” (Delanty, 1999). During the 1970s, the use of the…

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1179

Abstract

This article explores the concept of ‘risk’ that is both an epistemological tool and major facet of “late modernity” (Delanty, 1999). During the 1970s, the use of the notion ’risk’ was mainly confined to ‘natural sciences’, when the concept was used to analyse and improve the ‘security’ of technological systems (Giddens, 1990). According to Delanty (1999) it was not until the 1980s and 1990s that social science based ‘disciplines’ discovered the importance of the topic in relation to changes affecting modern society. In particular, the disciplinary development of Sociology, for example, has discovered ‘risk’ as one of the important aspects of neo‐liberalism and modernity (Beck, 1992; Giddens, 1990; Luhmann, 1993; Delanty, 1999). Sociological conceptions of risk are rapidly changing the role of social science (Delanty, 1999). For example, Delanty (1999) claims that there are studies on epistemology or legitimation of risk knowledge. The conflict between sociologically informed concepts of ‘risk’ and the more traditional, probabilistic calculations of risk represent a contest of competing social philosophies and visions about the future development of human and financial resources, relationship between economic growth and environmental protection, role of government and individuality, and projections and visions about the future it can be argued. A sociologically informed understanding of risk illustrates the interconnectedness of an “ageing population,” social policy and social life. From this perspective, risk is more than a calculation of costs and benefits, it is a theoretical mechanism for weighing different sets of political orientations which impinge on the positioning of individuals and populations.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 25 no. 8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

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Article
Publication date: 6 March 2007

Jason Powell, Azrini Wahidin and Jens Zinn

The purpose of this paper is to explore the concept of “risk” in relation to old age. Ideas are explored linked with what has been termed as the “risk society” and the…

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1982

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the concept of “risk” in relation to old age. Ideas are explored linked with what has been termed as the “risk society” and the extent to which it has become part of the organizing ground of how we define and organise the “personal” and “social spaces” in which to grow old in western modernity.

Design/methodology/approach

A theoretical paper in three parts, including: an introduction to the relevance and breakdown in trust relations; a mapping out of the key assumptions of risk society; and examples drawn from social welfarism to consolidate an understanding of the contructedness of old age in late modernity.

Findings

Part of this reflexive response to understanding risk and old age is the importance of recognising self‐subjective dimensions of emotions, trust, biographical knowledge and resources.

Originality/value

This discussion provides a critical narrative to the importance and interrelatedness of the sociology of risk to the study of old age.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 27 no. 1/2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

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Sensory Penalities: Exploring the Senses in Spaces of Punishment and Social Control
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83909-727-0

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 2006

Abstract

Details

Working with Older People, vol. 10 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1366-3666

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