Larissa Povey

Larissa Povey

Female Ex-offenders and Welfare Conditionality

Description: This PhD examines the gendered dimensions of Wacquant’s 'carceral-assistantial net' as female ex-offenders navigate a tougher conditionality and sanctions regime. The use of sanctions in the UK has grown exponentially as a means of inducing correct behaviour in welfare recipients. As the role of the welfare state shrinks, responsibility has shifted to individuals who have an ‘obligation to work’. These punitive ‘activation’ reforms have arguably impacted vulnerable groups in unforeseen ways; it is no coincidence that the rise in sanctions has been accompanied by an increase in the award of financial hardship grants.

Within both welfarist and penal discourses ‘welfare dependent’ and ‘criminal’ are constructed as social ‘problems’; employment is heralded as a panacea to these ‘problems’. The convergence of these discourses impacts on how women in poverty and women in conflict with the law are perceived, and the conceptualisation of women being 'at risk'. This PhD project seeks to understand women's experiences at the carceral-assistantial nexus and the suitability of the welfare system to successfully engage with female ex-offenders and those 'at risk' of offending. It examines this emerging 'precariat' by exploring the experiences of women under reformed welfare policies and how this affects their behaviour, attitude and wellbeing as well as the wider impact on their dependants.

Funded in collaboration with the Vice Chancellor's PhD Studentship.

This PhD is linked to the ESRC-funded 'Welfare Conditionality: Sanctions, Support and Behaviour Change' project (

Contact details

0114 225 3562

Latest publication

POVEY, L. (2017). Where welfare and criminal justice meet: applying Wacquant to the experiences of marginalized women in austerity Britain. Social Policy & Society (16)2, pp. 271–281


Del Roy Fletcher (Main supervisor)
Richard Crisp, Tony Gore (2nd supervisors)