Magistrates, managerialism and marginalisation: neoliberalism and access to justice

Welsh, Lucy (2016) Magistrates, managerialism and marginalisation: neoliberalism and access to justice. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Kent.

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This thesis examines access to justice in summary criminal proceedings by considering the ability of defendants to play an active and effective role in the proceedings. Summary proceedings are those which take place in magistrates’ courts, and are decided by lay magistrates or a district judge (magistrates’ courts) without a jury. The study uses ethnographic fieldwork to explore the structural/cultural intersection of public services by considering both the effects of structural changes in criminal proceedings in magistrates' courts and the agency of the courtroom workgroup. While the cultural practices of magistrates’ courts have always tended to exclude defendants from active participation in the process, I argue that the structural influences of neoliberalism, in terms of demands for ever more efficient practices and emphasis on individual responsibility as a function of citizenship, have exacerbated the inability of defendants to participate in the process of prosecution. I also observe that, for a number of reasons, the professional workgroup has tended to absorb and adapt to, rather than resist, the neoliberalisation of summary criminal justice. Thus, the combination of structural and cultural influences on magistrates’ court proceedings perpetuates the marginalisation of defendants. Further, in light of neoliberalism's preference for market based approaches to government, there is little political motivation to address the identified problems of access to justice.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Law
Depositing User: Lucy Welsh
Date Deposited: 31 Oct 2017 15:36
Last Modified: 31 Oct 2017 15:36

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