Book review: Transforming Probation (2nd Ed)

Date01 March 2019
Published date01 March 2019
Subject MatterBook reviews
PRB821028 143..146

Book reviews
The Journal of Community and Criminal Justice
Probation Journal
Book reviews
2019, Vol. 66(1) 143–146
ª The Author(s) 2018
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/0264550518821028
Transforming Probation (2nd Ed)
Phillip Whitehead
Policy Press; 2016; pp. 260; £22; pbk
ISBN: 978-1447327660
Reviewed by: Andrew Fowler, Senior Lecturer in Criminology and
Community Justice, Sheffield Hallam University
Transforming Probation: Social Theories and the Criminal Justice System by Phillip
Whitehead builds upon the social theory from Whitehead’s 2010 book, Exploring
Modern Probation: Social Theory and Organisational Complexity. In its own words,
it ‘assimilates various theoretical standpoints’ (p. 93) to explain ‘the multi-faceted
phenomenon’ that is the criminal justice system.
There is much to praise about the book. The first chapter offers a meticulous
breakdown of the changes in probation from New Labour (1997) to the Coalition
(2015). The second chapter appeals to the sociological imagination, offering the
theoretical tools to complete an excavation of probation, introducing Durkheim,
Weber, Marx, Bonger, McWilliams, Foucault, Lacan and Zˇizˇek which, in 63
pages, seems ambitious. Whitehead captures the essence of probation in Chapter
3, where he makes visible the ‘personalist sensibilities’ (p. 119) pervading the
probation workforce and remaining consistent despite the tumult of change. In
Chapter 4, the theoretical exposition in Chapters 2 and 3 are applied to probation
practice, policy and criminal justice. The author applies a range of ‘socio-theoretical
tools’ (p. 119) and, in brief, Durkheim is used to draw attention to how probation
can be used as a punishment to express moral outrage; Weberian bureaucracy
captures the tension between managerialism and professional autonomy; Marxism
shows how probation has been restructured in line with the market economy; Fou-
cault makes visible how individualist...

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