University of Hertfordshire

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Original languageEnglish
JournalWork, Employment and Society
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 13 Feb 2021

Abstract

This article utilises Foucauldian understandings of the sociology of the professions to explore how marketising reforms to probation services in England and Wales, and the implementation of a ‘Payment by Results’ (PbR) mechanism in particular, have impacted professional autonomy. Drawing on an ethnographic study of a probation office within a privately-owned Community Rehabilitation Company, it argues that an inability to control the socio-economic organisation of probation work has rendered the service susceptible to challenges to autonomy over technique. PbR was proffered as a means to restore practitioner discretion; however, the article demonstrates that probation staff have been compelled to economise their autonomy, adapting their conduct to conform to market-related forms of accountability. In this sense, it presents the Transforming Rehabilitation reforms to probation as a case study of the impact of marketisation on the autonomy of practitioners working within a public sector profession.

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