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Street-level bureaucracy, interprofessional relations, and coping mechanisms : a study of criminal justice social workers in the sentencing process

Halliday, Simon and Burns, Nicola and Hutton, Neil and McNeill, Fergus and Tata, Cyrus (2009) Street-level bureaucracy, interprofessional relations, and coping mechanisms : a study of criminal justice social workers in the sentencing process. Law and Policy, 31 (4). pp. 405-428. ISSN 0265-8240

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Abstract

This article builds on the work of Michael Lipsky and develops an argument about the significance of interprofessional working for street-level bureaucracy. It presents an ethnographic analysis of criminal justice social workers writing presentence reports for the Scottish courts. Social workers' report writing for judges brought into relief issues of relative professional status. Social workers were uncertain of their place within the legal domain and concerned about their credibility as criminal justice professionals. Reports were written, in part at least, as a way of seeking esteem and credibility in the eyes of judges-a motivation that undermined the policy objectives of social enquiry in sentencing. Applying the conceptual tools of Bourdieu to our findings, we argue that street-level bureaucrats who have to work across bureaucratic "fields" may find, or fear, that the cultural and symbolic "capital" they retained within their own field is undervalued in the symbolic economy of new fields, putting them in a position of relative inferiority. This issue of relative professional status, and how officials respond to it, is significant for our understanding of street-level bureaucracy.

Item type: Article
ID code: 17859
Keywords: street level bureaucracy, interprofessional relations, criminal justice, social workers, sentencing, Penology. Prisons. Correction, Criminal justice administration, Sociology and Political Science, Law
Subjects: Social Sciences > Social pathology. Social and public welfare > Penology. Prisons. Correction
Social Sciences > Social pathology. Social and public welfare > Criminal justice administration
Department: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (HaSS) > School of Law > Law
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (HaSS) > School of Social Work and Social Policy > Social Work
Related URLs:
    Depositing user: Strathprints Administrator
    Date Deposited: 07 May 2010 18:07
    Last modified: 05 Sep 2014 03:59
    URI: http://strathprints.strath.ac.uk/id/eprint/17859

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