The Actuarial Subject: Legitimacy and Social Control in Late Modernity - PhDData

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The Actuarial Subject: Legitimacy and Social Control in Late Modernity

The thesis was published by Munro, William George., in September 2022, University of Stirling.


The following thesis can be read as a socio-historical case study of the emergence of risk discourses within the Scottish Criminal Justice System, particularly in relation to offenders who are defined by their dangerousness. It focuses on the emergence of the Risk Management Authority (RMA) which was set up under recommendation of the MacLean Committee in 2000. The thesis examines the broader social and cultural forces from which the Risk Management Authority emerged by drawing on Hegel’s notion of ‘Ethical Life’ (Sittlichkeit) as a means of framing institutional change. By way of a re-interpretation of Hegel, through the lens of critical theory, it seeks to historicise and make problematic the concepts and assumptions surrounding our understanding of modernity. Through the concepts of reflexivity, legitimacy and indeterminacy it offers a critique of the existing sociology of risk, which places risk at the centre of debates on modernity, contingency and the self-understanding of society. This critique offers a conceptualisation of penal institutions as not just administering punishment, but as instrumental in the constitution of human subjectivity.

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