Dr Beth Weaver is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Social Work and Social Policy, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. She is an experienced researcher in the field of criminology and criminal justice social work. She has conducted research across a range of areas of enquiry. She is currently involved with an ESRC funded study Co-producing Desistance from crime: The role of social cooperative structures of employment (www.coproducingdesistance.org) in addition to leading on various research studies exploring when and how different co-productive approaches and related social innovations can support desistance and social innovation. Beth is actively engaged in a number of research networks, research projects and knowledge exchange activities with specific interests in desistance, user involvement and co-production and the use of through-the-prison-gate social cooperative structures of employment. All of her research has an applied focus on penal reform. Beth has also published widely on a range of subjects relating to criminal justice policies, practices, and research and in particular, on the subject of desistance from crime. Her book Offending and Desistance: The Significance of Social Relations published in July 2015 was awarded the British Society of Criminology Book Prize in 2016 and is available from Routledge.
Plenary title: Desistance from Co-offending: A relational perspective
Crime is primarily a group, or relational, activity, yet our justice system and our research models too often focus on criminal behaviour as the work of isolated individuals. In this seminar, I report on my study that examined the life course trajectories of a street "gang" (the Del) that went straight, albeit at different stages and for different reasons (Weaver, 2015). I argue that taking the social relation as a central unit of analysis, rather than solely structures and/or agency, can reveal the dynamic influence of social relations on changes to an individual’s behaviour. Embedded in a relational realist framework (Donati and Archer 2015), the study illuminates the relative contributions of individual actions, social relations and social systems to the process of desistance. In so doing, this methodological approach enabled an exploration of both the heterogeneity and intersectionality of the men comprising the group, and the group dynamics involved in both the co-production of offending and its subsequent desistance. If we understand both offending and desistance as a relational enterprise, this has implications for how we support both desistance and social integration. Drawing on current research, I conclude that we need to look beyond ‘individual desistance’ towards a coproductive and cooperative approach to supporting social integration.
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