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CJS Seminar: Cara Hunter and Robert Holland

shadow of person in front of bars


Teaching Room 07
Edinburgh Law School
Old College
South Bridge

and Virtually on Zoom


Wed 12 April 2023

Power, access, and emotion: negotiating qualitative research in the Scottish penal system

Cara Hunter and Robert Holland, The University of Edinburgh

The politics of Scottish Imprisonment, 1999-2020

Cara Hunter, University of Edinburgh

Post-devolution, Scotland has been engaged in a ‘nation-building’ project, including a series of attempts to carve out imprisonment’s place within this, and shaping the opportunities and boundaries to prison reform. Academic accounts describe a flurry of penal-policymaking 1999-2007; a political ‘consensus’ over drastically reducing imprisonment post-2007; and various reconfigurations of the prison estate and Scottish Prison Service since. More recently, observers have lamented and questioned the ‘failure’ of this ‘de-carceration’ drive to downsize or radically reshape the prison estate. Using oral-history interviews with key figures in the contemporary imprisonment debate, this project offers an ‘on the ground’ view of: the emergence of this perceived ‘consensus’ over imprisonment; how actors navigated it as a moment of opportunity for change; and how they understand their ‘failures’ or ‘successes’. Interviewees across academia, politics, and the criminal justice system have illuminated a complex picture of this period; shedding light on the hidden strategy, compromise, and conflict that have shaped the last 20 years of imprisonment. The project’s preliminary findings highlight the importance of this kind of oral history, and the complexity of working with penal elites in a highly politicized field.

Emotions and Security: The Exploration of Emotional Labour Within the Security Environment of a Hybrid Space

Robert Holland, University of Edinburgh

Hybrid security environments are dynamic ecosystems filled with public and private entities, vendors, and security services. Although the everyday activities differ, they all work in tandem toward preserving a calm and orderly environment free from crime. The traditional role of a police officer demands a significant amount of emotional labour to carry out their required duties as they must suppress their own feelings to produce the organizationally desired psychological state with those they interact with. Drawing on the works of Hochschild, high levels of emotional labour can potentially have significant consequences for workers and could impact the overall safety and security of the general public utilising these hybrid spaces. This project aims to explore how emotional labour, and nodal governance, manifests within the British Transport Police team operating within Edinburgh Waverley railway station in Scotland (a hybrid security environment). A mixed-method approach utilising ethnographically inspired participant observation and semi-structured interviews has just been conducted.

This event is free and open to all.

Attend in Person: no registration required.

Attend Virtually: Register on Zoom

This event is part of the Crime, Justice & Society Seminar Series.