Understanding desistance from crime:
agency, structures and structuration in
processes of reform
Applying structuration theory to desistance
Process one: imprisonment
Process two: community supervision
Process three: feelings of citizenship and inclusion
Process four: victimization and desistance
Process five: the structuration of place
Process six: the structuring capacities of emotions
What ought to be done?
Given a simple choice, no one in his right mind would choose to be a
(Donald West, Homosexuality, 1955: 154)
Our aim in this chapter is to outline our thinking on the relationship between agency, structure and culture with regards to desistance from crime. The relationship between agency and structure is one that has seen much debate in social scientific research in the recent past. We are fortunate in that we have been able to draw upon the insights generated not only by sociologists and social theorists (e.g. Giddens; Bourdieu), but also by criminologists, especially those working on desistance (e.g. Giordano et al., 2002; Laub and Sampson, 2003; Bottoms et al., 2004).
Several key social theorists have in recent years attempted to move away from the simple agency/structure divide and have sought explanations that develop the interplay between agents and structures. Chief amongst the social theorists that have engineered these 'theories of the middle range', as some have called them, is Anthony Giddens. Whilst it was true a few years ago that it was mainly at the theoretical level that Giddens' efforts