The Governance of Social Marginality in the UK: Towards the Centaur State?

Published 12/06/2013
Type Article
Author(s) Professor Del Roy Fletcher
Corresponding Authors Professor Del Roy Fletcher, Professor of Labour Market Studies, The Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research (CRESR)

Burgeoning prison populations and the growing use of compulsion in welfare policies across much of the western world has stimulated a great deal of academic discussion. Drawing on U.S experience Wacquant (2009) argues that a ‘centaur state’ has emerged which involves the ‘double regulation of the poor’ by the development of workfare and the expansion of the prison system. This article critically discusses the salience of these ideas to the U.K. It draws upon historical analysis to reveal the important continuities with the inter-war period which was also characterised by rising prison populations and the introduction of workfare in the brutalising form of labour camps. It then considers recent attempts to join up welfare and penal policies and finds that these have been frustrated by the behaviour of front-line staff operating in a context of acute resource constraints and growing workloads.