Responding to Punishment in the Community: Conformity as Resistance in a Women’s Probation Hostel

Published 13/03/2002
Type Article
Author(s) Alana Barton
Corresponding Authors Alana Barton, Centre for Studies in Crime and Social Justice, Edge Hill

In recent years there has emerged an inspiring body of feminist literature which has examined the range of strategies employed by incarcerated women to manage, negotiate and resist institutional regimes. However, although this literature has opened up new areas of scholarly debate and has challenged the myth that women (and women offenders in particular) are ‘feeble’ and ‘muted’ social agents, the analysis has primarily been limited to women within custodial institutions. It is the intention of this article to expand on these debates by examining the experiences of women subjected to punishment within the community, specifically within a probation hostel.
It will be argued that the construction of femininity plays a crucial but contradictory role in women’s strategies of resistance. Based on original research the article will explore the ways in which women in a probation hostel managed to navigate and resist their confinement through apparent displays of conformity. It is argued that women frequently endorsed feminising discourses and practices promoted within the institution in order to avoid further scrutiny and regulation and thus their actions can be considered as a means of ‘resistance’.