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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Another chance : some sociological conditions of juvenile probation in a family court Darrough, William D.


Although there is an extensive professional-social scientific literature on juvenile probation, there are few empirical studies of normal work routines of probation officers. The present research was designed to examine juvenile probation in a family court bureaucracy as a practical, interactionally-based enterprise. The thesis reports on two years of field work in a Canadian family court. The field work experience itself is treated as a topic of inquiry. The perceived identity of the researcher as 'social worker' and 'ex-probation officer' are shown to have been valuable ethnographic resources. Records of naturally-occurring interaction between probation officers and juveniles, probationers, parents, judges, etc., are presented and analysed. The ideological notions of 'help and guidance and proper supervision', 'cooperation', and the 'proper understanding of the meaning of behaviour' are studied as procedural matters of pervasive and practical concern to probation officers doing probation. The problematic status of what it termed 'the ideological perspective of the juvenile court movement' in the setting is discussed. Competent probation work is shown to involve the continual and accountable accomplishing of cooperation and understandings adequate-for-the-practical-purposes of the probation officer. This on-going work is, in turn, shown to underpin and make possible the apparently routine, mundane and unproblematic processing of cases by the Court. The study presents and analyzes data which display the critical status of the 'terms of probation' as a device par excellence, with which the cooperation and proper understandings are accountably pursued. The interactional uses of the document In supervision and placement are illustrated.

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