Sarah Kennedy

PhD Student

University of Glasgow


Working Title of PhD: A common hope: a criminological and theological exploration of the role of hope in the desistance process

Year commenced PhD study: 2017 Institution/Organisation: University of Glasgow

Funding Source (if any): College of Social Science Scholarship

Full or part-time: Full-time

PhD Supervisors: Professor Fergus McNeil and Dr Doug Gay

Synopsis of PhD:
Desistance literature talks of the transformation from offender to desister (Paternoster and Bushway 2009); a transformation which encompasses a new mind set, a new outlook on circumstance and a new social situation. Weaver’s (2016) research revealed narratives naming hope, to varying degrees, as a contributing factor to desistance. For some, hope was very targeted and goal based, whilst others used hope more to describe a state of being. Yet, more recently, Schinkel and Nugent (2016) showed, that for some, hope’s disappointment became a source of pain rather that encouragement.

The theological theory of Common Grace shows that there is a particular aspect of God’s grace that is common to all mankind, regardless of beliefs. My contention is that a ‘common hope’ exists for all mankind too: a hope which is at the core of transformation, but is not confined to salvation. As both hope and transformation are key terms in both theology and desistance theory, I will explore if a theological understanding of hope, and its role in human identity, can help inform ways of better supporting desistance and sustaining individual hopes

My research will involve in-depth interviews, comparing the views of, (1) individuals presently serving time in prison with, (2) those who have been recently released and, (3) those who have been out of prison for two years or more. I will attempt to re-interview participants after six months in order to evaluate how hopes may have changed and the circumstances which brought these changes about.

Keywords :
Hope, desistance, theological criminology



University of Glasgow

SCCJR, Ivy Lodge, 63 Gibson Street
University of Glasgow

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