Worrall, Anne (1987) Nondescript women: a study of the judicial construction of female lawbreakers as abnormal criminals and abnormal women. Doctoral thesis, Keele University.

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The thesis of this study is that 'nondescript women' are a muted group within the criminal justice system. They are subject to multiple discursive oppression which is subtle and sophisticated. Their oppression is dependent not on their active and constant domination by one group (men) in society but by the inability/refusal of a number of authorised definers or agents of signification (who may, empirically, be either men or women) to hear or listen to communications which are incongruent with professionally legitimated modes of expression about female conditions of existence. Consequently, the women are disqualified as speakers about their own condition and are, instead, strategically constructed as the programmable objects of professional discourses. They are effectively offered a contract which promises to minimise the consequences of their criminality by rehabilitating them within the dominant discourses of femininity (that is, domesticity, sexuality and pathology). Despite these programmes of feminization, nondescript women, it is argued, are also those women who attempt to resist such construction by exploiting the contradictions of official discourses. As a result, the 'experts' find such women impossible to define and they appear to be beyond definition both as women and as criminals. They are, in effect, seen to be nondescript. Vet, whilst much of the women's resistance is individualistic, inconsistent and, in some senses, self-destructive, it has the important effect of undermining the authority of official discourses and keeping open the possibility of the creation of new knowledge about them - both as women and as lawbreakers.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Law
Contributors: Carlen, Pat (Thesis advisor)
Depositing User: Lisa Bailey
Date Deposited: 06 Jul 2020 10:32
Last Modified: 06 Jul 2020 10:32
URI: https://eprints.keele.ac.uk/id/eprint/8341

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