Contradictory regimes of practice: Constructs and discourses in an open prison
(2021) Theory and Psychology
Using concepts from Kelly and Foucault, analysis of interviews in the mid-1990s with staff in an English open prison explores how contrasting discourses are reconciled. Two superficially antagonistic discursive formations within prison practice are described: a discourse of discipline/control and an ethic of reform and reclaiming “spoiled” criminals for good and productive life. While rhetorically at odds, they are reconciled in the working practices of prison staff, with discipline as a necessary precondition for reform. The open prisons stand for the rehabilitative ethic and the staff are proud of their work, but by the 1990s prison policy had begun to dissociate itself from promises of reform, in response to research conclusions that residential care was ineffective. This case study shows how discourses survive when they are disowned by their “owners.” The research has wider implications for an understanding of hierarchical relationships between discourses and construct-sets that prescribe different practices. © The Author(s) 2021.
discourse; Foucault; justifications; personal construct theory; social representations