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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: 27 February 2009

Jason L. Powell and Jon Hendricks

The purpose of this concluding paper is to reflect on the theories of ageing well delineated by the papers of the special issue. It sets research themes that social…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this concluding paper is to reflect on the theories of ageing well delineated by the papers of the special issue. It sets research themes that social theorists of ageing should reflect upon in creating conceptual tools to understanding the power dynamics of older people and modern society.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is an overview of the key issues that have been found by theories introduced throughout the special edition. It attempts to look ahead to seeing how social theory and ageing will need to be strengthened so that theory and experiences are inter‐locked.

Findings

This concluding paper cites how social theory can be analysed in variety of international and national contexts that gives an holistic and not eurocentric approach to social gerontology.

Originality/value

The paper is original in that it points to the future challenges social gerontology in terms of theorising ageing. The great value of social theory is that it provides critical questions about the nature of modern society and the implications this has for older people. This is original in getting researchers to see the creative use of theories of ageing.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 29 no. 1/2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 2004

Jason L. Powell and Simon Biggs

This paper unravels the conceptual and theoretical insights of Foucault’s later work on technologies of self in order to understand Bio‐medicine which impinges on the…

Abstract

This paper unravels the conceptual and theoretical insights of Foucault’s later work on technologies of self in order to understand Bio‐medicine which impinges on the social construction of ageing. The article attempts to show how Foucault’s theoretical insights allows scholars of sociology and social policy to provide a critical appraisal of ageing. The paper also examines the relationship between ageing and self‐care in three contextual domains: good health management; use of counselling; and bodily enhancement.

Details

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

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 27 February 2009

Jon Hendricks and Jason L. Powell

The purpose of this paper is to contextualise the need for a social theory of ageing. For a long time, social gerontology has been accused of being “data rich but theory…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to contextualise the need for a social theory of ageing. For a long time, social gerontology has been accused of being “data rich but theory poor”. The paper reviews this and maps out the importance of research themes of social theory and sets the scene for the articles that have used social theory in an innovative way to shed light on international experiences of ageing.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is an introduction to the collection. It mainly is a literature review of key theoretical ideas and trends on social theory and ageing.

Findings

The paper points to how different dimensions of social theory are internationalised across USA, Israel, UK and Europe. The use of theory in an informed manner gives intellectual respectability to empirical research in social gerontology.

Originality/value

The paper is original in that it points to the gaps in social gerontology in terms of theoretical development. It sets the scene for the very original papers on social theory that is assessed by different levels: macro, messo and micro forms of theoretical analysis of ageing.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 29 no. 1/2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

Keywords

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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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Article
Publication date: 1 December 2003

Jason L. Powell and Margaret Edwards

This paper considers the concept of risk as applied to an understanding of the nature and changing relationship between social welfare and youth in the United Kingdom. The…

Abstract

This paper considers the concept of risk as applied to an understanding of the nature and changing relationship between social welfare and youth in the United Kingdom. The paper begins by drawing on the sociological work of Ulrich Beck (1992) in order to examine how changes in modern society have led to what has been coined the “risk society”. An assessment is then made of historical narratives of social welfare which positioned younger individuals in society. Attention then focuses on an examination of neo‐liberalism in contemporary times as a key feature of the “risk society” and the recasting of the state, welfare agents and younger people. In particular, the paper observes the rise of managerialism and consumer narratives that are central to neo‐liberalism and management of social welfare yet are indicative of risk. The article concludes by arguing for an interface between risk and a critical sociology of youth.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 23 no. 12
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

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Article
Publication date: 1 September 2005

Jason L. Powell and Tim Owen

Anti‐reductionist social theory is a relatively ‘new’ but methodically eclectic body of theory which analyses the complexity of the tripartite theory, policy and practice…

Abstract

Anti‐reductionist social theory is a relatively ‘new’ but methodically eclectic body of theory which analyses the complexity of the tripartite theory, policy and practice. The work of Roger Sibeon (1996, 1999 and 2004) has contributed to a sensitising frame work in regard to a sociology of knowledge: generating epistemic narratives for theoretical construction and re‐construction, contrasting to a substantive sociology for knowledge based upon methodological generalisations for empirical or practical use: although the of/for distinction is not inflexible as there are circumstances when they form a process of what Powell and Longino (2001) call ‘articulation’: a united or connected analysis of/for theorising and practice.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 25 no. 9
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

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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…

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: 24 July 2009

Jason L. Powell and Ian G. Cook

The aims of this paper are to summarise the rapid expansion in the proportion of the elderly across the globe and to highlight the main factors causing this. Specific…

Abstract

Purpose

The aims of this paper are to summarise the rapid expansion in the proportion of the elderly across the globe and to highlight the main factors causing this. Specific areas of the globe will be focused on in more detail before the authors discuss some of the key challenges and consequences of global ageing for global society.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is a literature review of major trends and implications of population ageing across the globe.

Findings

As a consequence of the global demographics of ageing, societies are being confronted with profound issues relating to illness and health care, access to housing and economic resources including pension provision. We have witnessed an unprecedented stretching of the human life span. This ageing of the global population is without parallel in human history. If these demographic trends continue to escalate, by 2050 the number of older people globally will exceed the number of young for the first time since formal records began, raising questions of the power of the nation state in the context of global ageing and of the changing nature of the global society that is emerging.

Originality/value

This is an original paper that aims at reviewing the major population trends across the Americas, Asia, Europe and Africa. The implications of demographic change are grounded in context of global changes that highlight social, economic and political implications of global ageing.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 29 no. 7/8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 11 July 2016

Jason L. Powell and Sheying Chen

Abstract

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 36 no. 7/8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

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