Adaptive strategies of voluntary sector organisations to Penal Service Markets

Mike Maguire, Mary Corcoran, Kate Williams, Kelly Prince

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Recent critiques of neoliberal carceral strategies have characterised the relationships between governments and the voluntary sector in terms of the co-optation by stealth (Corcoran 2011, 2014; Mills et. al. 2011). According to these commentaries, the shift to liberalised penal service markets has realised the importance of new governing strategies through assemblages of actuarial control and market incentives (Wallace, 2004: Singh, 2010). Voluntary organisations involved in service delivery are presumed to be co-opted by the state and forced to adjust their mandates to fit the priorities of the criminal justice market in which they now compete to deliver penal services (Neilson 2009: Maguire, 2012). Several criminologists, in particular Garland, have identified how crime control moves “beyond the state” to engage community partners in the “social control efforts” of “official crime control agencies” (2001: 123–127).
These characterisations, however, oversimplify highly complex interactions (Tomczak, 2014). While neoliberal policies have significantly altered the voluntary sector, their influence is neither total nor uniform. This paper considers the multi-layered and diverse ways in which the voluntary sector interacts with neoliberal penal regimes. It outlines the theoretical and conceptual framework which is informing a research project entitled, ‘Voluntary sector adaptation and resilience in the mixed economy of resettlement’ in England and Wales. The project explores the diverse, multifaceted ways in which voluntary organisations may be adapting, innovating and developing new strategies of engagement with the state, markets and communities. This approach allows for a more nuanced understanding of how voluntary organisation are seeking to modify practices, adapting to and working within a neoliberal culture. Utilising Hirschfeld’s (1970) formulation of ‘exit, voice and loyalty’ these strategies might tentatively be conceived of working with, working against, and working through neoliberal carceral logics.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 28 Aug 2015
Event43rd Annual Conference of the European Group for the Study of Deviance and Social Control -
Duration: 26 Aug 201529 Oct 2016


Conference43rd Annual Conference of the European Group for the Study of Deviance and Social Control


  • penal reform
  • Prisons


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