Volume 1, Issue 1
Published 22 April 2008
David Metcalfe, University of Warwick
Prostitution and the Nineteenth Century: In Search of the 'Great Social Evil'Fraser Joyce, Oxford Brookes University
The Educational Experiences of Gypsy Travellers: The Impact of Cultural Dissonance Danny Wilding, University of Warwick
Rape and Sexual Assault in Japan: Potential Gender Bias in Pre-Trial Procedures Harriet Gray, University of Sheffield
The Elusive Search for 'Truth': Oliver Stone, Postmodernism and History Nicholas Witham, University of Warwick
Overspill Policy and the Glasgow Slum Clearance Project in the Twentieth Century: From One Nightmare to Another?Lauren Paice, Oxford Brookes University
The Reception of Literature in France during the Revolution: An Analysis of Reviews of Women Writers in the Mercure de France, 1791-1795 Jonathan Durham, University of Warwick
Governmental Reform in Developing Countries: External Conditionality versus Peer Pressure. The Case of Kenya Carole Biau and Julie Biau, University of Warwick
Representations of Reality in a Court of Law Rebecca Funnell, University of Warwick
Draft Front Page
Reinventing the Journal?
by David Metcalfe, Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick
There has been no shortage of discussion surrounding Reinvention: a Journal of Undergraduate Research since its launch in September 2007. For example, it raised a number of issues at an interactive symposium held at the British Sociological Association Annual Conference earlier this year (Lambert et al., 2008) and prompted the government-backed Higher Education and Research Opportunities (HERO) gateway to run a feature on undergraduate publishing (HERO Gateway, 2007).
In many ways this attention mirrors a wider shift towards enthusiasm for undergraduate publishing. For example, staff from the Journal of Young Investigators were invited to market their undergraduate journal alongside established publications at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Conference in February. Furthermore, the McGill Journal of Medicine recently won the right to be indexed by the Excerpta Medica Database (EMBASE), run by major academic publisher Elsevier.
There has also been a move by other organisations to launch undergraduate publications. For example, Oxford University Press launched its own undergraduate journal, Bioscience Horizons, last month (Bioscience Horizons Editorial Board, 2008). Similarly, the University of Central Lancashire expects to publish the first issue of its journal, Diffusion, later this year (Banks, 2008).
Alongside these developments, Reinvention: a Journal of Undergraduate Research continues as the largest undergraduate journal attracting contributors and readers from a range of intellectual disciplines. As a multi-disciplinary journal, Reinvention seeks to showcase the highest quality undergraduate research in a format of interest to a broad readership. Including articles from different perspectives emphasises the similarities and points of dialogue between disciplines, as well as the differences. In this current issue, Rebecca Funnell argues in ‘Representations of Reality in a Court of Law’ that each actor in court represents reality in a manner consistent with his or her own agenda. A similar theme resonates through Carole and Julie Biau’s economic case study of Kenya in which interviewees sometimes gave contradictory answers. Indeed, we are reminded that such representations are influenced both by culture – see Harriet Gray’s paper on ‘Rape and Sexual Assault in Japan’ – and historical context, as demonstrated in Jonathan Durham’s creation and analysis of an index of women writers, and Fraser Joyce’s article on ‘Prostitution in the Nineteenth Century’. However, Nicholas Witham recognises in his analysis of Oliver Stone films that even our own understanding of history is at the mercy of context and interpretation by historians. Of course such contested realities are not unrelated to prejudice and frequently result in discrimination: whether against prostitutes in Victorian England, the poor in post-war Glasgow (Lauren Paice), or Gypsy traveller children in contemporary British schools, as highlighted by Danny Wilding’s qualitative research. Although written by authors from a range of intellectual backgrounds, these articles are united by a common desire to challenge assumptions held about the world in which we live. This critical attitude towards dogma is doubtless a cornerstone of research, and of developing graduates capable of leading humanity into the 21st century.
However, editing a multi-disciplinary journal necessarily brings challenges. One of these is maintaining balance and it is certainly true that both issues to date have been dominated by papers from the arts and social sciences. This is perhaps inevitable given that these disciplines lend themselves to discursive analysis and review of existing literature; indeed, undergraduate research in the natural sciences often composes only part of a larger project led by an academic researcher. As a result, data may form only part of a paper over which undergraduate contributors have little or no ownership. The Reinvention editorial team continues to work with those in the natural sciences to understand the specific publication needs of undergraduate scientists.
The challenge of achieving balance is echoed in a wider discussion ongoing amongst those involved in undergraduate publishing. This discussion centres on the extent to which undergraduate journals, such as Reinvention, should be inclusive of all student work and fulfil a primarily pedagogical role in developing and improving undergraduate writing skills. According to one school of thought, undergraduate journals should exist to promote research to all students in order to encourage a spirit of natural enquiry and the capacity to think critically about the world around them. Indeed, this is broadly the aim of the Reinvention Centre for Undergraduate Research, which seeks to ‘integrate research-based learning into the undergraduate curriculum’ and which funds the journal as part of its wider remit. However, recent discussions have raised the question of whether the journal exists to support an elite group of undergraduates or to provide an inclusive medium of knowledge development and sharing (Lambert et al., 2008). For many commentators, then, the launch of Reinvention is an opportunity to reconsider and perhaps reinvent the traditional model of a scholarly journal. The argument that Reinvention should work towards an inclusive form of knowledge development is certainly persuasive. However, this view underestimates the value of the traditional model of academic publishing. For example, peer review introduces a valuable collaborative component into the publishing process. As stated in a previous editorial (Metcalfe, 2007), Reinvention reviewers are invited to provide more support to authors than might be required by a traditional academic journal. In this way, we hope that students learn from the publishing experience as well as contributing high-quality articles to the scholarly literature. Peer review also provides an opportunity to include students in the critical appraisal of manuscripts. Indeed, the editorial team are exploring the possibility of training undergraduates to work alongside faculty colleagues in conducting peer review. The journal, then, achieves inclusiveness by virtue of a supportive review process and student involvement throughout the publishing experience. Indeed, collaboration remains a significant feature and strength of the journal. We hope you enjoy the current issue.
Banks, C. (2008), Diffusion, http://www.uclan.ac.uk/host/nexus/journal.htm, accessed 21 April 2008
Bioscience Horizons Editorial Board (2008), ‘Editorial’, Bioscience Horizons, 1 (1), http://biohorizons.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/issue_pdf/frontmatter_pdf/1/1, accessed 21 April 2008.
HERO Gateway (2007), Reinventing the journal, http://www.hero.ac.uk/uk/studying/archives/2007/reinventing_the_journal_Nov.cfm, accessed 6 April 2008
Lambert, C., E. Simbuerger, C. Gibson, D. Metcalfe, M. Neary, L. Home, K. Pilcher and A. Cartwright (2008), ‘Teaching and learning in and for a complex world’, presentation at the British Sociological Association Annual Conference, University of Warwick, 28-30 March, 2008
Metcalfe, D. (2007) 'The launch of an undergraduate research journal', Reinvention: a Journal of Undergraduate Research, Launch Issue, http://www.warwick.ac.uk/reinventionjournal/issues/launchissue/editorial/, accessed 21 April 2008
To cite this paper please use the following details: Metcalfe, D. (2008), ‘Reinventing the Journal?', Reinvention: a Journal of Undergraduate Research, Volume 1, Issue 1, http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/go/reinventionjournal/volume1issue1/metcalfe Date accessed [insert date]. If you cite this article or use it in any teaching or other related activities please let us know by e-mailing us at Reinventionjournal at warwick dot ac dot uk.
© Reinvention: a Journal of Undergraduate Research (2008). Full copyright remains with the author.
Prostitution and the Nineteenth Century: In Search of the 'Great Social Evil'
by Fraser Joyce, Department of History, Oxford Brookes University 
During the nineteenth century prostitution became labeled as "The Great Social Evil" by contemporaries. This article attempts to unravel some of the complexities in the circumstances surrounding this labeling by Victorians through the investigation of some of the problems and controversies which prostitution raised in society. In studying the trade in terms of its social, medical and moral implications on Victorian life though contemporary writings, it can be demonstrated that the prostitute's failure to meet middle-class social and gender ideals, the threat she posed to the nation's health, and the moral implications of sin and vice meant that the prostitute had the potential to make an impact on every level of society, and thus attracted much public and state interest towards herself and her trade.
Keywords: Prostitution, Great Social Evil, urbanisation, criminality, gender ideals, venereal disease, social purity, philanthropic organisations.
‘Under the name of the Great Social Evil our newspapers for years have alluded to an awful vice, too evidently of wide prevalence,’ wrote Francis Newman in 1869 (Newman, 1869: 3). The concept of the Great Social Evil envisaged a sin of daunting proportions spreading throughout the social order leaving chaos in its wake; in the nineteenth century no greater social problem was perceived by society than that of prostitution. This article will explore why Victorian Britain was preoccupied with the prostitute and her trade, and why this above all other vices was branded ‘the Great Social Evil’ of the nineteenth century. This study of the social, medical and moral structures of Victorian life will demonstrate that the prostitute’s place in the community in terms of social class and gender, her role in the spread and reduction of venereal disease, and the threat she posed to the nation’s moral wellbeing, meant she was the centre of attention for a broad spectrum of Victorian society.
There is a wealth of both primary and historiographical material available to the historian on this topic: contemporary pamphlet literature in general is particularly abundant, as are the works of religious figures, social anthropologists, and medical men; secondary literature abounds with texts on crime, popular politics, empire, gender and sexuality. However, primary material on this subject can be misleading and on occasion unreliable. Nineteenth-century writers were characteristically melodramatic and encapsulated the concept of a perpetual battle between good and evil, order and anarchy (Weiner, 1990: 21). Thus it is common to find in practical writings that the author’s personal morals are clearly visible, though their impact on the overall text is often harder to judge. This serves to reinforce the argument that for Victorians, the moral aspects of life were inherently bound with the physical.
Prostitution became a field of academic study around the 1970s and due to its potentially sensitive nature, Mazo Karras writes that the historian must ‘steer clear between the dangers of portraying prostitutes as victims by concentrating too much on how others saw them and the danger of decontextualising them by concentrating too much on their agency’ (Houlbrook, 2006: 209). Gilfoyle argues that around the 1980s there was a re-evaluation in the way the topic was approached: before, prostitution was studied in terms of its sensationalism, focusing on the very highest or lowest forms; references were ‘buried’ in works on public health, crime, and deviance. However, post-1980s histories display a change in emphasis, focusing on the prostitutes themselves, and their role within wider society (Gilfoyle, 1999: 117-20). This may be in part due to Walkowitz’s influential work Prostitution and Victorian Society (1980) which analysed the role of women, both those who were prostitutes and those who were not, in the passage and repeal campaigns of the Contagious Diseases Acts, in doing so exploring the place of the prostitute in wider Victorian society.
A vast literature has been produced on almost every aspect of the prostitute, her trade, and how both integrated into and reflected wider social beliefs and practices. The reputation the Victorians earned in terms of their sexual prudery means that unbiased contemporary accounts are rare; consequently, historians may have insufficient sources to discuss Victorian sex and sexuality, prompting Phillips and Phillips to note that ‘more nonsense is probably talked about “The Victorians and Sex” than any other aspect of Victorianism’ (Phillips and Phillips, 1978: 99). Thus caution needs to be exercised when studying this topic.
This article, structured around Dr William Acton’s criteria of social, medical and moral aspects of prostitution, attempts to unravel the complexities surrounding the prostitute and her trade, and to provide an overview of how the Victorian era perceived the Great Social Evil through their writings on its causes and cures. This thematic approach is preferable to a chronological one given the intricacy of the relationships between aspects of Victorian life; in addition many sources reveal a striking continuity (and in some cases unabashed repetition) of popular and professional opinion. The emphasis throughout has been on primary material in order to allow a greater flexibility in unravelling the multi-faceted nature of the topic.
Social Aspects I: Class
Social structure had much to do with the popular perception of prostitution, as the majority of contemporary work published on the topic was written by the middle classes about the lower social orders, which came about primarily from nineteenth-century urbanisation. From 1812 to 1851 Britain’s population doubled, and, by 1900, had done so again (Steadman Jones, 1971: 160). As middle-class protocol dictated a man could not marry until he could support a family, Clement argues that high levels of urban unemployment caused an increase in unmarried people of both sexes, and unfulfilled male sexual desire encouraged prostitution (Clement, 2006: 212-13). However, Victorian writers did not often see the socio-economic factors, preferring moral arguments; the urban environment became a place of vice, depravity and sexual danger. Using a supply-and-demand model, Acton argued that the growth of towns increased the proximity of wealthy idle men mixed with the poor, thus creating ideal conditions for prostitution to flourish (Acton, 1870: 176-7). Walsh wrote of the dangers in the crowded city:
The concentrations of vice and their rotaries… the sanction lent by example; the concealment offered by numbers to every sort of sin; the facilities provided by commerce for multiplying the means of enjoyment; the inducements held up by the love of gain to sacrifice integrity to advancement; the very refinement which attaches itself to vice when it has so many elegant appliances (Walsh, 1858: 3).
All these factors were said to encourage prostitution, and demonstrate how cities were transformed from places of opportunity to ones of danger. In the mid 1880s W.T. Stead in his ‘Maiden Tribute to Modern Babylon’ compared London to the Minotaur’s labyrinth, awash with women sacrificed to the monster of modern society (Pall Mall Gazette, July 6, 1888: 2). Though the majority of British literature focused on London, problems were found in urban centres across the country.
Studies into the underclass in newly-urbanised cities from the 1830s onwards discovered prostitutes as an abundant part; vice-ridden, criminal and poor. Poverty was perceived to be linked to prostitution, but not always in an economic sense. Greg wrote that poverty brought boredom; sex provided an interesting distraction to the poor unaffected by morals (Greg, 1831: 26). Mearns asked ‘who can wonder that young girls wander off into a life of immorality, which promises release from such conditions’, viewing the desperation to escape the circumstances rather than moral corruption as a cause of prostitution (Mearns, 1883: 11).
However, in practice, poor working wages for women formed by far the strongest link between poverty and prostitution. Martineau wrote that ‘there is the strongest temptation to prefer luxury with infamy to hardship with unrecognised honour’ in the face of unemployment (Martineau, 1870: 178). Petty theft was more profitable than petty manufacturing and in turn prostitution was more profitable than either. The juvenile thief Ellen Reese answered Chadwick’s questionnaire into criminality at her trial by stating that ‘she did not become a regular prostitute till shoplifting failed – was miserable both ways, but going on the Streets was more profitable’ (Tobias, 1972: 62).
Thus prostitution became associated primarily with the troublesome poor. Taylor argues that ‘public condemnation and police prosecution’ directly follow each other (Taylor, 1998: 43-4); behaviour in the working- and under-class seen as immoral by the middle class tended to be repressed by the law, as Ryan argued in 1839:
The common people of all nations, the ignorant and the vulgar, who are uneducated, are extremely vicious… [and may be revolutionarily violent] did not legislation… control and punish them (Ryan, 1839: 16).
It is arguable that the interest in prostitution in Victorian Britain stemmed from the need to cull immoral behaviour through tougher policing. Gatrell writes that in the Victorian age there was much increase in
the policing of the nation’s drunks, vagrants, paupers, prostitutes, homosexuals and aliens; the policing of those who might service allegedly deviant cultures… or the policing of those practices subverted on increasingly rigid ideal of urban order (Weiner, 1990: 261-2).The 1839 Vagrancy Act in London was directed at prostitutes specifically, and outlawed ‘loitering for the purposes of prostitution or solicitation, to the annoyance of passengers or inhabitants’, thereby clearing the urban environment of those unsavoury to the general public (Pearsall, 2003: 267). Some contemporaries had strong views: Talbot advocated an increase in police powers and the summary conviction of prostitutes (Talbot, 1844: 62-3). Publicus Mentor highlighted the importance of both moral and legislative reasons for controlling the poor:
Let the “Social Evil” be a punishable offence, whether it be in its rather less sinful, or its more aggravated, form of “Adultery”: the latter being forbidden by God’s Holy Commandments as much as murder, theft, or any other offence which our laws admit to the criminal, and the former by God’s Holy Word (Publicus Mentor, 1875: 4).
Ultimately, prostitution was regulated in part by the Contagious Diseases Acts (see below), but it was never directly rendered illegal. A vice that accompanied prostitution was habitual drinking, both as cause and accompaniment. ‘A woman who drinks will do anything,’ lamented Miller, when explaining why prostitutes were able to ply their trade (Miller, 1859: 9). A profound difference separated prostitution from other vices; Landels wrote that drunks, vagrants, bankrupts and immoral men could all regain their respectability, but not prostitutes, thus placing prostitution above others as the most disgraceful vice (Landels, 1858: 37).
When parading so openly in public and associated with other vices, the prostitute became the symbol of degradation and sin in urban society. Prostitution, as a significant vice in the nineteenth century, was associated with the problematic poorer elements of society; their immorality was closely associated with the criminal nature of the lower social orders. The urbanisation of the nineteenth century forced the wealthy and poor closer together and the associated vices of the latter, frowned upon by the former, became a visible and thus undeniable problem.
Social Aspects II: Gender
Nineteenth-century male society held an ideal of womanhood to which women were encouraged and forced to adhere: selfless and compassionate; the ideal woman’s criminal counterpart was ruthlessly obstinate. Studies into prostitution emphasised the class divide in sexual morals: Cominos wrote that women were viewed as either ‘sexless ministering angels or sensuously oversexed temptresses of the devil’, with no middle ground (Himmelfarb, 1995: 74). Butler argued men had created this divide and spoke of the exploitation of both respectable women and prostitutes, the two described thus:
The protected and refined ladies who are not only to be good, but who are, if possible, to know nothing except what is good; and those poor outcast daughters of the people whom they purchase with money, with whom they think they may consort in evil whenever it pleases them to do so, before returning to their own separated and protected homes (Butler, 1879: 9-10).This reveals the male exploitation of a lower class to uphold the ideals of a more respectable rank of women, who were equally repressed.
Offering an interpretation of why men imposed these feminine ideals upon women, Tait wrote that ‘men are, in general, possessed of greater mental power and activity than females; but that is why they ought to extend towards the latter that sympathy and protection to which they are entitled in virtue of their weak and unprotected condition’ (Tait, 1840: 152). Despite male power, it was thought that women were ‘morally superior’, controlling their sensibilities and regulating their sexual desires in a way which was supposedly beyond male capability. The Westminster Review in 1850 noted that men merely exploit this ‘strange and sublime unselfishness’ by making them servile (Miller, 1859: 6).
This supposed ability to control their sexual desires made prostitutes another female anomaly. It was argued that Victorian females’ sexual appetite was negligible and unnatural: women did not have sex for pleasure, but to procreate. Graham believed that God made intercourse pleasurable so that man could carry out His wishes to procreate with the satisfaction of continuing the natural order of things (Graham, 1854: 11). Women who lost their virginity outside marriage were frowned upon as illegitimacy was sinful: as they showed desire they must be slaves to greed and lust (Burstyn, 1890: 111). Within marriage, chastity was supposedly upheld even more rigorously. Sexual excitement was seen as dangerous to the heart and nervous system; sex within marriage was perceived as safer due to its scarcity and the familiarity with partners’ bodies: ‘Between the husband and the wife, where there is a proper degree of chastity, all these causes [excitement and over-stimulation] either entirely lose, or are exceedingly diminished in its effect’ (Graham, 1854: 12). Thus ‘Married women, mothers, are, we believe, on the whole healthier than the unmarried. It is not Nature that is to be blamed, but unnatural excess’; an excess found through the use of prostitutes (Newman, 1889: 6). The wife also had an emotional moral advantage over the prostitute since she could gratify the whole being (mind, body, and spirit), whereas the prostitute could only please the body, and then only for money (Acton, 1870: 162-3).
Another controversial aspect of Victorian prostitution was its apparent freedom from male interference (until the 1860s). The working prostitute did not fit her gender role as a mother or ‘angel of the house’, instead choosing to work in public. Fielding noted that prostitutes were ‘getting bolder’, appearing more often in public; female independence posed a threat to patriarchal society, and displayed a stark warning against crime and unregulated sexuality. By appearing in public managing independent economy, much attention and concern was directed towards her (Tobias, 1967: 137).
The prostitute was also far from the ideal mother figure: Acton saw the two major sins of motherhood, infanticide and bastardy (and from the 1860s, baby-farming) to be associated with prostitution in the nineteenth century (Acton, 1870: x). Bullen opposed prostitution ‘in the sacred rights of the family’, arguing that the prostitute was an unfit mother who could only ruin her family (Social Purity Association, hereafter SPA, 1883: 14). Immoral women corrupted their children and husbands; juvenile delinquency was a particular fear, as children embodied innocence ideally incorruptible. As for the husband, she could ruin him by being unfaithful; the ‘fallen woman’. Augustus Egg’s Past and Present was a horrific warning to Victorians of the potential ruin to a family caused by the unfaithfulness of the wife (Roberts, 1980: 73).
On the subject of motherhood, Acton is frequently cited by historians as arguing that prostitutes could reintegrate with society after a life of prostitution and become a good wife and mother. What many do not acknowledge is that he was condemning the ‘double standard’ of sexual morality (Acton, 1870: 49). It was acceptable for men to sin, but women, kept in the pure ideal, could not. ‘A woman falls but once’, writes Miller, ‘and society turns upon her as soon as the offence is known. A man falls many times, habitually, confessed by; yet society changes her countenance on him but little, if at all’ (Miller, 1859: 26). There was also the clear display of hypocrisy with men loving one class of women (their wives) but using prostitutes for sex, all the while preaching purity for their wives (Greg, 1831: 37).
Thus the prostitute did not conform to the role prescribed to her by patriarchal Victorian society. In an age with two extreme romanticised images of women, she posed a stark contrast to the middle-class ideal of the woman as a mother, an obedient wife and above all financially and socially dependant on her husband. Branding prostitution as the Great Social Evil helped to reinforce this patriarchal social structure.
Prostitution was closely associated with venereal disease, and occasionally likened to a disease to be cured on the body politic:
[Is prostitution] the sore to be neatly and comfortably dressed as it may be, from day to day, with mollifying and deodorising appliances, and suffered to run on? or are the means to be taken to heal and dry it up? (Miller, 1859: 11).
Thus the prostitute’s body itself became a pollutant of the city, which needed to be regulated or removed to preserve the health of the populace. She became caught up in the Public Health movement, introduced for the physical and moral wellbeing of the population (again the two were seen to be inherently linked). The extended Contagious Diseases Acts were pushed through by those concerned with this movement, thus attempting public health on a social level by combating a disease which stemmed from an individual’s actions (Fisher, 1996: 33).
Sexual health can be split into two areas: venereal disease; and the perceived danger of physical overexertion through intercourse (see above), or loss of essential bodily fluids. The latter danger was perceived exclusively as a male risk; indeed, neither area generally focused on women’s health, and gynaecological knowledge as a whole in the Victorian age was questionable. Ryan’s Prostitution in London contained a series of anatomic etchings, but none concerned female ailments; the entire work was male-orientated on this subject (Ryan, 1839: 435-47). Acton advocated control over sexual expenditure: 1oz of semen was thought to contain the life-power of 40oz of blood, and therefore intercourse not used for procreation would waste this precious force in men (Marcus, 1970: 23). This is essential to bear in mind when studying the medical texts; doctors, supposedly writing solely from a physiological (and later psychological) standpoint, often revealed their moral beliefs. When studying the effects of venereal disease on the public, doctors who perceived prostitutes as the cause of illness rarely viewed them in a sympathetic light.
As with the numbers of prostitutes themselves, the spread of venereal disease was more speculated than calculated. Prostitutes could spread disease quickly; Acton quoted two doctors, Duchâtelet and Barr, claiming that prostitutes could have 15-20, and 20-23 clients a day respectively (Acton, 1870: 38, 6). All might become infected; if the woman herself was healthy, it was likely that one of her clients would not be. An anonymous doctor calculated the yearly spread of venereal disease: a total of 1,652,500 people infected per year from just 500 initially infected women; with each of the 500 infecting 3,304 men. Mrs Pankhurst believed that 75% of all men had a venereal disease; medical officials calculated that 7% of all those hospitalised under the Poor Law were infected (Pearsall, 2003: 277), and Hemyng noted that syphilis was found in around a fifth of sailors’ women (Hemyng, 1862: 233-4).
Thus dangerously diseased, prostitutes were seen as directly responsible for debilitating the health of the male population. Hemyng wrote that her disease
contaminates the very air, like a deadly upas tree, and poisoning the blood of the nation, with most audacious recklessness… The woman was nothing better than a paid murderess, committing crime with impunity, (Hemyng, 1862: 235)
and therefore implying she felt no guilt for her actions and furthering the opinion that she was a pestilence upon humanity. In his study of prostitution in Paris, Duchâtelet wrote that venereal disease attacked the young clientele, the ‘strength and wealth of nations’ in their prime, leaving them unfit for civil or military use (Wardlaw, 1843: 41). Duchâtelet’s point was particularly poignant for the English experience; with the collapse of a generation the country and the British Empire would fall with it. The Viceroy of India wrote on syphilis: ‘the strength of the British Army in India, as a fighting machine, has been impaired by the disease’, and damage limitation was sought to ensure this did not lead to disaster (Levine, 1994: 583).
The resulting 1864 Contagious Diseases Act subjected women suspected of being ‘common prostitutes’ to fortnightly internal examination; subsequent Acts in 1864, 1866, 1868 and 1869 extended the legislation. They were controversial: the Social Purity Alliance branded them as ‘scientific sanction for immorality’, by regulating and not repressing the trade (SPA, 1883: 7). The Acts were thought to encourage the double standard further, as they were directed against women, not the men who used and funded the trade (Garrett, 1870: 3).
Two sources from 1870 argued that regardless of their medical effects (which were debatable), the Contagious Diseases Acts thrust venereal disease and prostitution, which until then could theoretically be ignored, into the public sphere. Acton wrote that between 1858 and 1870 ‘the mind and conscience of the nation are awakened’ by the Acts (Acton, 1870: v). With suggestions that the Acts be extended to the whole of the civil population (which in practice was too daunting a prospect) the Contagious Diseases Acts became a public issue. Garrett writes:
The proposal to extend gradually to the civil population the principle embodied with Contagious Diseases Acts of 1866 has been… so predominantly brought before the general public that it can no longer be regarded as a matter for professional opinions only (Garrett, 1870: 3).
As the first proactive attempt by the British government to solve the problem of prostitution which previously had only been of real concern to the medical community and a moral problem for middle-class society at large, the Contagious Diseases Acts helped to emphasise the figure of the prostitute and the problems she embodied at a public level.
Tait wrote ‘the habits of prostitutes… destroy every moral and religious impression which may have been produced… at childhood’ (Tait, 1840: 31); and in an age when purity was vital, the prostitute became an obvious target of moralists. From the early nineteenth century onward religious sentiment was heavily involved in debates on prostitution. Although moral attitudes were a source of sympathy for prostitutes (in particular religion), they also explain why many Victorians saw prostitutes as moral vermin and not just a problem to be solved. Prostitution (as unchecked fornication) was forbidden by the Bible, and those involved in the religious revival of the nineteenth century were an abundant source of literature on the Great Social Evil. Other than the biblical story of Eve (used for centuries as an example of female sin), a commonly-cited passage was Corinthians I, Ch. 6, vv. 9-10, which reads:
Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor coveters, nor drunkards, nor railers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
Tait, citing this, argues that prostitution was caused by spreading ‘revolutionary and infidel principles’ and was thus a sin against God (Tait, 1840: 203). Wardlaw urged religious groups to restrain disgust and to retain sympathy for the unfortunate women. ‘Hatred of their sins must on no account be allowed to degenerate into hatred of their persons,’ he wrote. ‘To hate their sins, we leave to God, but to hate their persons, we can learn only from the devil’ (Wardlaw, 1843: 121). This was not always successful: ‘How [do] these sinners dare enter into the house after God, and into the immediate presence of their Maker… with this sin upon their conscience[?]’ wrote Publicus Mentor, perceiving scant chance for redemption (Publicus Mentor, 1875: 7).
The two major religious sects of this era were Nonconformism and Evangelicalism, and these doctrines had an influence on many aspects of Victorians’ lives. Nonconformism sought to provide an alternative to Catholicism and Anglicanism and has been described as ‘the religion of the industrial age’. The congregation was middle-class, and their moral principles opposed threats to their domain such as prostitution, gambling, drinking and suchlike (Kent, 1993: 326). Evangelicalism dominated the religious arena as a branch of Christianity for which the work against prostitution was, according to one anonymous Christian Lady, ‘a holy war’ (Pall Mall Gazzete, July 9 1885, p. 5). Its devout work against sin was also vital to social purity campaigns. Nonconformism and Evangelicalism are seen throughout Victorian discussions on prostitution.
As the nineteenth century drew to a close, social purity campaigns became increasingly opposed to ‘deviant’ sexual practices, including homosexuality, resulting in a ‘veil of silence’ over sexual topics. Many dedicated organisations were set up directly to end prostitution, in particular the Social Purity Alliance. The Operations of the Alliance read: ‘In seeking to arrest the predominant cause of this evil… the Alliance strives to effect a permanent social reform’ (SPA, 1883: 7), thereby placing onus for change onto the individual, as opposed to the state (which by this point in time was falling out of favour with the public over the Contagious Diseases Acts).
Thus philanthropic organisations can be useful in estimating the popularity of a particular cause, including the case of the Great Social Evil. In the days following the shocking ‘Maiden Tribute to Modern Babylon’, Stead’s 1888 practical journalistic study into the horrors of juvenile prostitution, the classified pages of the Pall Mall Gazette were filled with advertisements for charity organisations addressing the issues raised in the study. Society membership figures are useful in judging how popular a cause was, and attempts of charity organisations in creating support were not always successful. The Social Purity Alliance suffered continuous problems with low membership. In 1888 Professor Stuart MP lamented:
We have been in existence for something like fifteen years, and I must say it is with a sense of regret that I learn… our Society contains only 3,523 members [most of whom had not paid the membership fee], and that of the eight Branches which are affiliated with it only four can be said to be in a thoroughly healthy and sound condition (SPA, 1888: 17).
As charities’ success depended on the same public interest and generosity, it is easy to speculate how charities and social purity organisations could share problems. In addition to membership difficulties, sometimes charities received scorn from onlookers: Whithorne openly criticised charity action as expensive and ineffective (Whithorne, 1858: 13). The heroine at the end of the moral tale The Crushed Daisy praised charitable figures as ‘the dauntless few // Who scoffs, and sneers, and insults brave… // and fearless, seek the lost to save!’, suggesting that charities frequently received derisive criticism (Logan, 1998: 13).
Contrary to expectations, these problems suggest the majority of the public was not as preoccupied with the Great Social Evil as some literature might suggest. The numbers of pamphlets and organisations point towards a significant interest, but membership numbers indicate otherwise: organisations were made up of a dedicated group supporting the cause, but with low membership figures, the general public appeared uninterested. This could provide the basis of an argument that the Great Social Evil was such only to a small section of the population. Interestingly, moral campaigns were unusual in that women were allowed by men to ‘find it in their power to contribute’ to a larger extent than anywhere else in Victorian life (M.R., 1868: 15). Walkowitz also argues this point in her study of the role of women in opposing the Contagious Diseases Acts (Walkowitz, 1980).
Though the aspirations of these individuals may have been over-optimistic and somewhat isolated from mass public support, moral campaigns are useful in studying prostitution in that they are primarily concerned with the causes and cures. They place blame and the hope of a solution on the individual rather than society at large, an area about which government legislation could do nothing.
In 1870 Acton, summarising public interest on the subject, wrote that the prostitute was found in ‘the obscurest corners behind the scenes of civilised society’ (Acton, 1870: 32). However as this paper has argued, this is far from the truth: she was a highly visible aspect of Victorian life, and was perceived as the Great Social Evil of her time. By examining the prostitute through her social, sanitary and moral standing portrayed in Victorian writings, much can be discovered about nineteenth-century attitudes towards prostitution, and we begin to understand why both the woman and her trade were branded the Great Social Evil.
The newly urbanised community in which clients were abundant meant the prostitute was provided with ample economic incentive. Urbanisation brought with it poverty, overcrowding, disease, and proximity between the poor and the wealthy which the latter found uncomfortable. Unemployment meant that economic opportunity became economic necessity as more women were forced into the trade. Social studies in periodicals such as The Morning Chronicle brought the figures of prostitutes and other members of the underclass into middle-class homes. The prostitute was associated with these undesirable criminal characters. In addition, by soliciting in public the prostitute became a highly visible character in urban society. This publicity was also exaggerated by her failure to live up to middle-class feminine principles. Victorian women were to follow two ideals; chastity and submissiveness. Chastity was to be upheld in middle-class women, so the sight of prostitutes openly trading their most sacred asset would inevitably cause anger amongst those who upheld these ideals. They did not have intercourse for procreation; but for money and pleasure. Nor did they adhere to the ideals of the perfect mother. By working outside the home, the prostitute defied male authority. Thus prostitutes were far from the ideals of womanhood, and visibly so.
Thus the prostitute perverted the idealised social norm. In a society where knowing one’s place in the social order was important, the prostitute was the dregs both in terms of social class and gender, and posed a morbid fascination for Victorians.
Medical texts were frequently concerned with the dangers of consorting with prostitutes. Venereal disease passed from the prostitute (seen as the source of this disease) to the man had devastating health effects, not just for the client, but for his wife and children (however, most arguments ended there and did not consider the man as the bearer of disease). Besides venereal disease, the dangers of an increased heart-rate and excessive emission of semen were also linked to prostitutes. Medical concerns were clearly aimed towards men, who were unquestionably the primary producers and audience of literature on prostitution. The Contagious Diseases Acts made the Great Social Evil a civil concern for the first time, emphasising the prostitutes’ role in the debilitation of the health of the populace.
Moralist texts, both religious and those involved with charity or social purity, affected opinion on the subject and raised the profile of the prostitute in society and of the dangers she posed. Religion provided much of the incentive to combat the sin in this respect; illicit sex was outlawed in the Bible, and the example of Eve provided the biblical basis of the female temptress who would destroy paradise. Philanthropic and social purity organisations also served to increase the profile of the prostitute, which helped to get more of the public involved. These organisations contained a wide array of figures from all walks of life, and published their writings. However, though the prostitute became visible through pamphlet literature, popular support was not guaranteed, indicating that perhaps not everybody viewed prostitution as a problem
Thus doctors, lawyers, government officials, religious figures, philanthropists, and laymen, men and women were united, for many different reasons, to combat the Great Social Evil. One of the most astonishing attributes of the Great Social Evil is that it brought together many areas of nineteenth-century life. Tait wrote that everyone had been affected by prostitution, whether through friends, family or work. The prostitute stood out as a target for people’s upright morals because she did not adhere to gender roles; she flourished in the newly urbanised centres; she was a source of disease. Prostitution had spread its influence over Victorian society, and there was ‘no bound to its extent’ (Tait, 1840: 154).
 Fraser Joyce is now undertaking an MA in the History of Medicine at Oxford Brookes University and plans to begin a PhD in the History of Medicine entitled 'The Medico-legal Aspects of Identifying the Body: Forensic Medicine and British Society, 1726-1936' in October 2008.
Acton, W. (1870), Prostitution Considered in its Moral, Social and Sanitary Aspects in London and Other Large Cities and Garrison Towns with Proposals for the Control and Prevention of its Attendant Evils (2nd ed), London: John Churchill and Sons
Barker, J. (1888), A Secret Book for Men; Containing Necessary Personal and Confidential Light, Instruction, Information, Counsel, and Advice for the Physical, Mental, Moral & Spiritual Weal of boys, youths and men; being an Exposure of the Vice of Boyhood, the Blight of Youth, and the Curse of Men, the Wreck of Manhood, and the Bane of Posterity, Brighton: publisher unknown
Burstyn, J. N. (1980), Victorian Education and the Ideal of Womanhood, London: Croom Helm
Butler, J. E. (1879), Social Purity: An Address, London: Morgan and Scott
Clement, E. (2006), ‘Prostitution’ in Cocks, H. G. and M. Houlbrook (eds), The Modern History of Sexuality, Basingstoke: Palgrave, pp. 206-230
Fisher, T. (1996), ‘Josephine Butler: Feminism’s Neglected Pioneer’, History Today, 46 (6), 32-38
Garrett, E. (1870), An Enquiry into the Contagious Diseases Acts of 1866-1869, London: (reprint from the Pall Mall Gazette)
Gilfoyle, T. J. (1999), ‘Prostitutes in History: From Parables of Pornography to Metaphors of Modernity’, American Historical Review, 104 (1), 117-41
Graham, S. (1854), A Lecture to Young Men on Chastity: Intended also for the Consideration of Parents and Guardians, London: Horshell and Shirrefs
Greg, W. R. (1831), An Enquiry into the State of the Manufacturing Population and the Causes and Cures of the Evils Therein Existing, London: James Ridgeway
Hemyng, B. (1862), ‘Prostitution in London’ in Mayhew, H., London Labour and the London Poor: Volume IV- Those Who Will Not Work; Comprising Prostitutes, Thieves, Swindlers and Beggars,
Himmelfarb, G. (1995), The De-Moralisation of Society: From Victorian Virtues to Modern Values, London: Institute of Economic Affairs
Houlbrook, M. (2006), ‘Cities' in Cocks, H. G. and M. Houlbrook (eds), The Modern History of Sexuality, Basingstoke: Palgrave, pp. 133-156
Kent, J. H. S. (1993), ‘The Role of Religion in the Cultural Structure of the Later Victorian City’ in Morris, R.J. and R. Rodger (eds), The Victorian City: A Reader in British Urban History, London: Longman, pp. 322-342
Landels, W. (1858), Lessons of the Street: A Lecture, London: publisher unknown
Levine, P. (1994), ‘Venereal Disease, Prostitution, and the Politics of Empire: The Case of British India’, Journal of the History of Sexuality, 4 (4), 597-602
Logan, D. (1998), ‘An “Outstretched Hand to the Fallen”: The Magdalen’s Friend and the Social Reclamation Movement- Part II: “Go, and Sin no More”’, Victorian Periodicals Review, 31 (2), 368-387
Marcus, S. (1970), The Other Victorians: A Study of Sexuality and Pornography in Mid-Nineteenth-Century England, London: Book Club Association
Martineau, H. (1870), How to Observe: Morals and Manners, London: Charles Knight & Co
Mearns, A. (1883), The Bitter Cry of Outcast London: An Inquiry into the Conditions of the Abject Poor, London: James Clarke & Co
Miller, J. (1859), Prostitution Considered in Relation to its Cause and Cure, Edinburgh: Sutherland and Knox
M. R. (1868), The Contagious Diseases’ Act: A Letter to The Editor of The Times (Feb 6th, 1868), location and publisher unknown
Newman, F. W. (1869), The Cure of the Great Social Evil, With Special Reference to Recent Laws Delusively Called the Contagious Diseases’ Acts, London: Trübner & Co.
Newman, F. W. (1899), The Corruption Now Called Neo-Malthusianism, London: The Moral Reform Union
Pearsall, D. (2003), The Worm in the Bud: The World of Victorian Sexuality, Stroud: Sutton
Phillips, J. and P. Phillips (1978), Victorians at Home and Away, London: Croom Helm
Publicus Mentor (1875), The “Social Evil!” Is There No Remedy?, Dublin: William Ridgeway
Roberts, H. E. (1972), ‘Marriage, Redundancy or Sin: The Painter’s View of Women in the First Twenty-Five Years of
Ryan, M. (1839), Prostitution in London, with a Comparative View of that of Paris and New York, as Illustrative of the Capitals and Large Towns of all Countries; and Proving Moral Depravation to be the most Fertile Source of Crime, and of Personal and Social Misery; with an Account of the Nature and Treatment of the Various Diseases, caused by the Abuses of the Reproductive Function, London: H. Bailliere
Sigsworth, E. M. and T. J. Wyke (1980), ‘A Study of Victorian Prostitution and Venereal Disease’ in Vicinus, M. (ed), Suffer and Be Still: Women in the Victorian Age, London: Methuen & Co., pp. 77-99
Social Purity Alliance (1883), Laws of Operations and Address, Croydon: Social Purity Alliance
Social Purity Alliance (1888), Annual Report from April 30th, 1887, to April 30th, 1888, and Report of the Annual General Meeting, Croydon: Social Purity Alliance
Social Purity Alliance (1889), Annual Report from April 30th, 1889, to April 30th, 1890, and Report of the Annual General Meeting, Croydon: Social Purity Alliance
Steadman Jones, G. (1971), Outcast London, Oxford: Clarendon Press
Tait, W. (1840), Magdalenism: An Inquiry into its Extent, Causes and Consequences of Prostitution in Edinburgh, Edinburgh: P. Richard
Talbot, J. B. (1844), The Miseries of Prostitution, London: James Madden and Co.
Taylor, D. (1998), Crime, Policing and Punishment in England, 1750-1914, Basingstoke: Macmillan
Tobias, J. J. (1972), Nineteenth-Century Crime: Prevention and Punishment, Newton Abbot: David & Charles
Walkowitz, J. (1980) Prostitution and Victorian Society: Woman, Class and the State, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Walsh, W. P. (1858), The Temptations and Trials Peculiar to Young Men: A Lecture Delivered to the Young Men’s Christian Association, Dublin: George Herbert
Wardlaw, R. (1843), Lectures on Female Prostitution: Its Nature, Extent, Effects, Guilt, Causes, and Remedy, Edinburgh: James Maclehose
Whithorne, J. C. (1858), The Social Evil Practically Considered, London: Wertheim, Macintosh, and Hunt
Wiener, M. J. (1990), Constructing the Criminal: Culture, Law and Policy in England, 1830-1914, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
To cite this paper please use the following details: Joyce, F. (2008), ‘Prostitution and the Nineteenth Century: In Search of the ‘Great Social Evil’', Reinvention: a Journal of Undergraduate Research, Volume 1, Issue 1, http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/go/reinventionjournal/volume1issue1/joyce Date accessed [insert date]. If you cite this article or use it in any teaching or other related activities please let us know by e-mailing us at Reinventionjournal at warwick dot ac dot uk.
© Reinvention: a Journal of Undergraduate Research (2008). Full copyright remains with the author.
The Educational Experiences of Gypsy Travellers: the Impact of Cultural Dissonance
by Danny Wilding, Department of Sociology, University of Warwick
There is a steadily growing literature on Gypsy travellers’ experiences of education. Given the low levels of literacy and attendance in formal education amongst Gypsy traveller children and, further, the centrality of education to UK society, this is a welcomed growth. Data from a variety of theoretical and ethnographic studies on the attainment levels of Gypsy travellers, their educational experiences and the quality of education that they receive indicates that Gypsy traveller experiences of formal education are fraught with varying degrees of conflict both with regard to authority figures within the school (i.e. teachers and teaching assistants) and with their non-Gypsy traveller peers. Drawing upon this literature, the present study found evidence of such conflict present in an English middle school. Specifically, conflicts were found to have their causes in a curriculum which Gypsy travellers found both irrelevant and inaccessible, in the presence of academic-minded teachers who inadvertently provoked volatile behaviour amongst Gypsy travellers and in peer-to-peer relations. Examination of the impact of the middle school structure found that teachers fitting a developmental model of teaching helped to mediate or indeed negate potential conflict for some Gypsy traveller students.
KEYWORDS: Cultural Dissonance, Education, Gypsy travellers, Middle School, Pedagogy, Qualitative Research.
The popular view of the educational system in England and Wales is that it is a system based upon value consensus, whereby all involved have agreed upon the values to be adhered to and to be imbedded within the institution. For Gypsy travellers such a consensus does not exist. The cultural dissonance that occurs between Gypsy travellers and the dominant culture in England and Wales has been well documented, within both the educational system and society at large. Like other ethnic minorities and deprived social groups, Gypsy travellers, although present within school walls, are marginalised by school and educational practices which are designed to cater primarily for the white middle-class (male) residing in a more settled home environment. Indeed, Liegeois (1998: 225-26) warns that: ‘if we place children in a “scholastic competition” where conditions clearly favour some more than others, yet we perpetuate the myth of meritocracy, we can only expect confrontation. And confrontation gives rise to “conflict (latent or violently explicit)” within the school.’
Against this backdrop, and grounding itself primarily in the theoretical framework provided by Liegeois (1998), this study sought to discover if there was any evidence of conflict, (‘latent or violently explicit’) in the educational experiences of Gypsy travellers in an English middle school. Further, given that the school in question was a middle school, what models of teacher can be found and in what ways do they impact on the presence or absence of conflict?
CULTURAL DISSONANCE IN PEDAGOGY, PEER RELATIONS AND MIDDLE SCHOOLS
Given the centrality of education in society, and the promises by central government to provide equal educational opportunities and experiences to all social groups (DCFS, 2008), it is understandably the focus of much research. It is further understandable that ethnic minorities and various under-privileged groups have been the focus of much of that research (Banks and McGee Banks, 1989). Gypsy travellers have proved to be one such focus of attention.
Liegeois’s (1998) warning of potential conflict between Gypsy travellers and schools is based upon Europe-wide research which illustrates that educational systems do not operate upon principles of equality of opportunity; the practices and structure of schools does in fact generate inequalities by alienating and marginalising ethnic minorities such as Gypsy travellers. The practice of ‘sending children to school is a cultural option’ (Liegeois 1998: 175), and one that without the coercion of state legislation Gypsy travellers may be unlikely to take. In his view, cultural dissonance occurs as a consequence of forcing Gypsy traveller children to attend schools and to operate within an institutional climate whereby norms and values are often opposed to those of their own culture. Members of the dominant society do not have to contend with such difficulties as the values embedded in schools are ‘reflections and extensions’ (Liegeois 1998: 177) of the values that are taught and shared within their homes.
That such cultural dissonance exists means that Gypsy travellers are unlikely to master the codes necessary for scholastic success, negating full participation in school life as learning school codes is a ‘prerequisite to learning itself’ (Banks and McGee Banks 1989: 178). Conflict, then, is the consequence of requiring Gypsy travellers to attend formal schooling and yet not providing a stimulating and exciting environment that meets their educational needs.
Several examples of conflict arising from cultural dissonance can be found throughout the literature on Gypsy travellers in English and Welsh schools. Tyler (2005) highlights forthright verbal responses of some Gypsy travellers to teacher questions and demands as a possible area of contention in school as it does not fit with the expected norms of school behaviour, and is likely to be viewed as bad behaviour rather than a reflection of Gypsy traveller cultural norms. Similarly in Derrington’s (2004) work on Gypsy travellers going through the transition from primary to secondary school, primary school teachers were concerned that the ‘hostile’ teaching methods of some secondary school teachers would cause Gypsy travellers to respond in a volatile way (Derrington, 2004: 55).
This concern appears to be well founded, for Derrington (2004) asserts that the greatest cause of unhappiness at school amongst the Gypsy traveller children in his study was their ‘inability to access the curriculum’ (Derrington, 2004: 45). Indeed the curriculum, it seems, can be found to be both inaccessible and irrelevant to Gypsy travellers. The problem over the ability to access the curriculum is two-fold. Firstly, as Hawes and Perez (1995) indicate, many Gypsy traveller children undergo primary socialisation in an illiterate environment, situated in an oral-based culture creating great difficulty for Gypsy travellers as the curriculum revolves around the need to be literate. The second issue concerns the irrelevant material of the curriculum which often bears no relevance to everyday experiences of Gypsy travellers. O’Hanlon and Holmes (2004: 93) assert that ‘pupils learn best and are highly motivated when their school curriculum reflects their cultures, experiences and perspectives’. Unfortunately Gypsy travellers have to contend with a serious discrepancy between the Gypsy in-family education and formal education. The former does not promote ‘abstraction from everyday life contexts’, but rather encourages learning within the context of lived experiences, whilst the latter often concentrates on abstract learning (O’Hanlon and Holmes, 2004). Levinson’s work is illustrative of the difficulty that Gypsy travellers may have with accepting education through abstraction from real-life contexts. Several of his participants ‘were forthright in their belief in the superiority of learning acquired in the home environment’, as opposed to formal education, the home environment being seen as providing a ‘real’ education and the necessary skills for a successful life within the Gypsy traveller culture; for example, the ability to tarmac, perform tree surgery or sell fortunes (Levinson, 2007: 23). The overall structure of the classroom, then, does not ‘facilitate Traveller involvement’ (Reynolds, McCartan and Knipe, 2003: 409). The boredom and resentment that this can create might lead to conflict within the classroom.
Peer relations are an additional area of school life identified as having high potential to be a source of conflict in Gypsy traveller experiences of education. Liegeois (1998) and Derrington (2004) both state that it is common to find Gypsy traveller students adopting ‘passing’ as an ‘institutional response’ (Derrington, 2004: 94) to a hostile or potentially hostile school environment. ‘Passing’ comprises disguising one’s true cultural identity in line with the assumption that life will be less hostile if such information remains hidden. Some Gypsy travellers ‘pass’ for their whole school lives, others opt to disclose slowly their real cultural identity to close non-Gypsy friends after a period of time. The young Gypsy traveller women interviewed by Sheehan (2000) claimed that if they could go back to school they would have ‘passed’ as Gadjes (a term used by Gypsy travellers to identify members of the dominant culture) as this would have prevented their isolation from their class peers, making school life a more positive experience. Based upon evidence such as this, it appears reasonable to suggest that the presence of ‘passing’ amongst Gypsy travellers within schools is a strong indicator of conflict, subtle or explicit as such an act as ‘passing’ would be unnecessary in the absence of hostility, real or perceived.
Following Liegeois’s argument that schools need to find a way in which to mediate the confrontations that occur between Gypsy travellers and schools, an analysis of the middle-school structure becomes of interest. Middle schools form part of a three-tier educational system that is in limited use in twenty-two English counties, and they typically cater for the 9-13 age range. Their origins lie in the 1960s and 1970s, built on the ideology that it was beneficial to continue providing for older students what was thought to be the positive attributes of primary schooling, namely the freedom of creativity and self expression in learning. It was believed that such features would be crucial in the early years of identity formation in early adolescence (Hargreaves, 1986). Hargreaves’s (1986) typology of middle-school teachers provides some indication of the models of teacher that are likely to be found within a middle-school structure and whose presence, if found, are likely to have consequences for the educational experiences of Gypsy travellers. Hargreaves’s (1986) model of the ‘academic-elementary’ teacher and of the ‘developmental’ teacher stand out as most significant in the study of conflict between school and Gypsy traveller student. These types are placed in opposition to one another, with the ‘academic-elementary’ teachers focusing on subject-specialism, as is characteristic of secondary schooling, placing additional importance upon teaching children to be part of the economic system and preferring firm discipline and rigid classroom structures. They favoured ‘setting’ (the placing of children in classes according to ability as opposed to the use of a mixed-ability classroom environment) as a way of teaching, categorising and testing children, and often held the view that children were of a fixed intellectual capability (Hargreaves, 1986). Conversely, the ‘developmental’ teachers paid greater attention to the individual child and how education could contribute to his or her development as a person, rather than creating a finished item ready for economic productivity. These teachers encouraged children to be active within a collaborative learning environment. Discipline, rather than being based along traditional, formal lines, was constructed as part of interpersonal relationships between child and teacher, and unlike their academic minded counterparts they were not ‘proud’ of their disciplinary achievements. The presence of either type of teacher has the potential to have varying consequences for the Gypsy travellers within the middle-school schooling system.
CONTEXT AND METHOD
The research was structured around the assumption that if conflict, in either subtle or explicit manifestations, between Gypsy travellers and the school was present then it would be found within the social interactions between various combinations of pupils and teachers. To this end and in an attempt to provide a thick description revealing the complexities of, and meanings attached to, such experiences, this study can be identified as qualitative and firmly located within the interpretivist paradigm. Through the adoption of the role of ‘observer as participant’ and the use of semi-structured interviews, the study sought to place the experiences and the voices of the Gypsy travellers at the centre of the research. The nature of the research, given time and financial constraints, is small-scale and therefore any findings are best viewed as indicative rather than definitive, but nonetheless important.
In terms of access, it was good fortune that initiated my entry into St Edward’s School, with a valuable connection being established via one of my university seminar tutors whose partner worked for the Traveller Education Support Services, a government agency responsible for working alongside schools and families to ensure a school environment that recognises the needs of Gypsy traveller students. It was this agency that put me in contact with St Edward’s. A subsequent meeting with the Head teacher, Mrs Black, was arranged and I explained the intentions of the research in greater detail, and offered assurances that my research would not be a critical assessment of individual teachers and that full anonymity and confidentiality would be provided to the school and to all participants.
Gaining access both in terms of ‘getting in’ and ‘getting on’ (Walford, 2001) was achieved swiftly and relatively easily. Mrs Black granted full access to the school for a period of up to two weeks, during which time I spent approximately five or six hours a day with a combination of both staff and students, on and off the school site. A timetable was prepared for me that identified where the Gypsy traveller students would be throughout the school day. It was with the Gypsy travellers themselves that ‘getting on’ was most crucial.
A vital seal of approval was needed from Sam, a 13-year-old in his final year at St Edward’s, who was asked to show me around. Sam was touted as a somewhat reformed character, having been a very difficult student on the borderline of expulsion for much of his school life, before deciding, in his own words ‘to grow up I s’pose’. Sam was a strongly built boy, loud, and well known throughout the entire school by staff and students; he commanded reasonable respect from the other Gypsy travellers, especially males. During the tour I attempted to establish an informal rapport with him, talking about football, rugby, maths and Elvis (his interests) so as to relax him to my presence and distance myself from authority figures within the school system. This initial tour and contact with Sam proved to be of remarkable value throughout the study as it appeared that acceptance of my presence from Sam carried much weight with the other Gypsy traveller children. This was demonstrated in the willingness of the entire sample (consisting of seven males and two females across all three year groups) to talk with me, both around school and within an interview situation, and by their knowledge of my research before I had even approached them.
St Edward’s school is a middle school teaching pupils from the ages of 10-13 years (school years 6-9), and has approximately 300 students in total; the main hall in which assembly and lunches were eaten provided a clear focal point for school activity. The teaching staff consists of both full-time teachers as well as teaching assistants, some with several years’ experience. The school has had a long-running involvement with the well-established Gypsy traveller population of the town and at present has around 16 Gypsy traveller students, of which only five were female. However, the exact number was unknown by staff as they had to rely on Gypsy traveller parents identifying their children as Gypsy travellers on official paperwork, something that some opted not to do, or could not do due to illiteracy. The head teacher explained that despite the present relationship between the school and the Gypsy traveller community being positive, this had not always been the case and indeed when she first took up her post as head teacher she had to remove teachers who viewed Gypsy travellers as ‘sub-human’ (16-03-07) and had to struggle to transform what was an overtly hostile environment between the Gypsy travellers and the school.
Throughout the study I attended the classes on the timetable that the school had devised for me, and I divided my lunch times between the staff room and the main hall, common areas or playground. When the opportunity arose, as it occasionally did, I broke with the timetable and observed other interactions going on throughout the school. Taking the advice of Boyle (1999) I adopted the ‘less-teacher’ role, in which I attempted to distinguish myself as much as possible from the teachers; this was done in the hope that the Gypsy travellers would find it easier to relax in my presence and later disclose things to me that they might not disclose to a teacher.
Interviews with the Gypsy travellers were a significant feature of the research. The interviewees were chosen in part by myself asking to speak with particular students, partly by the teacher providing appropriate permission and importantly by the Gypsy travellers granting consent. Unfortunately, time constraints meant that I did not seek parental consent to speak to the Gypsy traveller students, however the school reassured me that from their perspective my methods were ethical and the eagerness on the part of the Gypsy travellers themselves to speak to me, and their satisfaction with the outcome of our interviews, together testifies to the sound ethical manner in which the interviews were conducted. A feminist methodological model was adopted for the interviews, with information flowing in both directions between myself and the participants in a non-hierarchical environment. Six interviews took place in total; on two occasions group interviews were undertaken but one such interview was found to be detrimental to gaining information from the participants as some students significantly dominated others. Where it helped to relax the interviewees I played games such as hangman, again disassociating myself from teachers and establishing rapport.
Taking detailed notes throughout lessons was uncomplicated as the students and teachers were familiar with being observed by various outside agents and it did not appear to affect the validity of the environment. During interviews much of the data was memorised and written up immediately afterwards so as not to intimidate the interviewee. Field notes were written in full after each visit and typed up for analysis where I cross-referenced themes found within the data between various lessons, days and other observed events. Such themes were looked for during subsequent observations to see whether an identifiable theme was emerging across the whole study, and whether or not that theme bore any links to the sociological literature on the area.
THE THREE I’S: IRRELEVANCE, INACCESSIBILITY AND (CULTURAL) IGNORANCE
In line with the findings of Liegeois (1998), Derrington (2004) and Tyler (2005), the taught curriculum at St Edward’s appeared at times to be irrelevant and inaccessible for the Gypsy traveller children. In the areas in which it was found to be irrelevant, conflict – of both a subtle and violent nature – was identified. In classes such as Science and French, where many of the Gypsy travellers observed dismissed the lessons as irrelevant, the students could be found demonstrating body language that showed a lack of interest, typically turning their torso or head towards a friend and attempting to make non-verbal contact with them. Occasionally this would develop into verbal communication that was less than subtle. Perhaps not surprisingly, such behaviour generated frequent verbal warnings from staff and, in some cases, this lead to the physical removal of the Gypsy traveller student to another part of the room, and on one occasion from the class altogether. An alternative, less disruptive, strategy was that of the Gypsy traveller student slouched over his or her desk, head in arms, silently not paying attention to the lesson.
As mentioned, this sight was most frequent in Science and French lessons, both of which were identified in interviews as subjects which GT children disliked:
Gary: ‘I hate French. It’s boring. I want to go to college (to be a mechanic) and I’m already fluent in Chinese! Shaun’s lucky he don’t have to do French.’
Indeed it was in French that the largest single disruption was observed with two Gypsy travellers being sent outside the classroom. Throughout the disruption and conflict with the substitute teacher the two Gypsy traveller students constantly insisted that they did not understand what was required of them. With these protests falling on deaf ears the disruption escalated, with pens being thrown randomly around the room and the teacher being unable to help anybody due to escalating noise levels.
O’Hanlon and Holmes’s (2004) assertion that ‘pupils learn best when they are motivated by a relevant curriculum’ certainly appeared accurate throughout the observations, and as the incident in the French lesson illustrates, where this was not the case, conflict occurred. The increase in the likelihood of conflict generated by irrelevancy within the curriculum at St Edward’s was further highlighted by observations of the same Gypsy travellers behaving almost impeccably in lessons that they deemed relevant to their experiences. Design technology proved a favourite amongst all of the students, and one D.T. teacher remarked how ‘different’, and well-behaved they were in her class compared to others, leading her to claim that they were ‘angels really’. Maths, art and P.E. joined D.T. as firm favourites with the Gypsy travellers and the oft-stated reasons for such preferences were the relevance to what Gypsy traveller students viewed as everyday life skills and also the methods of teaching; it was in such lessons that more imaginative and accessible methods of teaching were employed. These imaginative methods involved using visual methods, for example, electronic white board games and group maths games to encourage basic arithmetic. These methods were preferred by all of the Gypsy traveller students without exception. Certainly the Gypsy travellers cannot be said to have been ‘angels’ in the favoured lessons, but there was a noticeable improvement in behaviour due to the relevancy of the lesson material and the accessibility of a pedagogical method that was able to stimulate and captivate Gypsy traveller interest in the subject matter.
Problems such as these may not be confined to St Edward’s School with the National Curriculum having to be implemented in all schools, but individual schools can work towards reinventing how lessons are taught so as to include a variety of stimulating pedagogies that will find relevance with all pupils and so incorporate them more fully in the learning process. This is perhaps especially so in the case of a middle school free of the burden of having to prepare for Key Stage 3 SATs, which adds pressure to perform for league tables rather than for the best interests of the pupil. However not all teachers recognised their methods as problematic, with most, as in Liegeois’s (1998) work, viewing the Gypsy traveller as culturally deficient in some way. As one teacher commented in relation to the perceived academic potential of a bottom-set class containing three Gypsy-traveller students, ‘you can’t polish a turd’. Such opinions will serve to perpetuate conflict, ‘subtle or violently explicit’.
PLAYING AT BEING ‘NORMAL’, KEEPING OUT OF TROUBLE: ‘PASSING’
‘Passing’ was a common feature of Gypsy traveller life at St Edward’s, albeit in varying degrees. No single student was found to pass entirely, with most Gypsy traveller students suspecting that the teachers knew of their cultural identity. The Gypsy travellers tended to adopt ‘passing’ as a strategy to avoid conflict. Gemma, one of the only two girls interviewed, believed that it was easier to disguise who you were than face various, often very subtle, forms of harassment each day. Indeed she perceived attacks on her culture as coming from several angles;
Gemma: 'Even the teachers do it, they laugh at the way we speak; Mr Edwards (English teacher) kept saying ‘daart’ yesterday, coz that’s how Acer (a Gypsy traveller) says it. I didn’t like that.'
This instance was reported and not observed so the intentions of the teacher cannot be confirmed, but this does suggest that, in the best-case scenario that the teacher was attempting to have some light-hearted fun, it was still perceived as a specific attack upon Gypsy travellers and, as such, Gemma believed that school was more enjoyable if her cultural identity was hidden. The Gypsy travellers interviewed believed that teachers were more strict with Gypsy travellers, scolding them for things that non Gypsy travellers could get away with doing, and a common complaint was the way in which staff reproached Gypsy travellers, with all of the students feeling that the teachers were too hostile in their tone of voice and the students especially disliked how they were prevented from speaking whilst being scolded. Complaints like these can be explained in terms of cultural dissonance given that previous research has suggested that older Gypsy traveller children and adolescents are treated like adults within their own cultures and afforded some respect for their opinions. To then have this denied to them at school creates a source of conflict (Tyler, 2005). Therefore the conclusion of Gypsy traveller students was that it was for their own good to ‘pass’ as Gadjes in school.
A number of the Gypsy travellers reported feeling victimised by some members of staff, and in fact the head teacher was singled out as the least trustworthy of all the teachers. It was widely believed that Mrs Black always took the side of Gadjes, and would continue to do so:
She thinks we cause all the trouble and when our parents come in she acts all nice but when they go again she moans at us. I don’t moan and sort it (referring to her own problems) out.
It is clear how the above stance (a pupil wanting to take their problems into their own hands) can lead to future conflict as it is a direct contravention of school rules for a student to take such action, especially if the action is likely to end in verbal or physical aggression. In this way the Gypsy traveller decision to adopt ‘passing’ as a coping strategy to institutional discrimination (Derrington, 2004) can ironically lead to an increase in hostility as it occasionally went hand-in-hand with the decision to solve one’s own problems. This reinforced Gypsy traveller perceptions that they were always being ‘blamed’ for the trouble at school simply because they were Gypsy travellers.
Reports of overt racism and harassment demonstrated by non Gypsy traveller pupils were made, although no such incidents were observed. The reports came primarily from the two female students in the study; nevertheless this did not prevent some of the boys from passing as Gadjes, although such behaviour caused great disgust for one male Gypsy traveller:
I’m proud of being a Traveller. Shane tells people he lives in a house and that makes me mad.
The extent to which many of the Gypsy travellers ‘passed’ was in fact quite successful, with several teachers being unaware of who was and was not a Gypsy traveller. It can be said with some confidence that the option to ‘pass’ as something one is not is evidence of the existence of underlying, subtle conflicts throughout the school system that result from coercing one social group to participate within an institution that operates both formally and informally to alien norms and values. The fact that with the exception of three males, all of the Gypsy traveller students stated that they would opt to ‘pass’ when they moved to secondary school, highlights how serious such subtle conflicts can be, and reflects the concerns of the primary school teachers in Derrington’s (2004) study that beyond primary education teachers' methods of operating and disciplining would serve to provoke aggression in, and alienate Gypsy traveller students.
AGITATORS AND MEDIATORS: THE ROLE OF MIDDLE-SCHOOL TEACHERS IN GENERATING CONFLICT
Hargreaves’s typology of middle-school teachers could be readily identified and documented. Even though teachers could be recognised as broadly operating to an academic-elementary or developmental model (Hargreaves, 1986), it became apparent through my observations that an element of fluidity existed whereby some teachers were able to adopt both approaches depending on the specific context in which they find themselves. Often the context upon which such fluidity depended was the overall ability of the class being taught, as one teacher explained:
It’s more enjoyable getting a top-set class, you can relax a bit more and you can encourage opinions. You can see who’s developing a real interest and encourage that. With the lower sets I find I’m just hammering fact after fact trying to get through to them but that’s all they understand.
Not all teachers adapted their educational style, with many of the developmental teachers believing that their approach to education worked regardless of class ability;
I generally approach my lessons the same way whether I have top set or bottom set. Even if I’m a substitute teacher for another lesson I try to get a little bit extra out of the students, and I think they enjoy it. It’s not all about grades.
There was an increase in in-class confrontations, even of a mild nature, in lessons taken by academic-elementary teachers. Conflicts along these lines were usually frustrated attempts to get Gypsy traveller students to do work in a particular fashion, which tended to be the style that the teacher saw as most appropriate, with there being little room for the Gypsy traveller to offer an alternative method of working. The greater freedom allowed within the structure of developmental teachers’ lessons negated minor conflict like this and as such likely prevented larger-scale conflict that was on one occasion witnessed in the classroom of an academic-elementary teacher. After a series of warnings for minor disruption and not setting his work out correctly during an English lesson, Alex was told to sit by himself by Mr Hill. Clearly aggrieved by such a demand, Alex slung his chair under the table aggressively, further angering Mr Hill, whose response was to shout at Alex, informing him his stamp was to be taken from him (part of a school reward system; the removal of a stamp has adverse effects for student at a later date). This led to Alex storming to the other side of the room where he threw himself down and refused to participate any further in the lesson. Afterwards Mr Hill offered this:
They are almost impossible to deal with after you have to tell them off. Sometimes you are forced to shout at them but when you do the shutters go up and any chance of co-operation after that is gone. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does…
As already indicated, this was not the case in lessons taken by developmental teachers, and even where Gypsy travellers, or indeed any other students, were being mischievous they were reminded that their behaviour had a negative impact on the rest of the class and was unpleasant for the teacher. It was not uncommon to hear such teachers make comments along the lines of ‘oh come on, you’re usually so well behaved for me’ or ‘we’ve had fun today, don’t spoil it’ (22-03-07). One technology teacher frequently referred to the Gypsy traveller boys in her class as her ‘angels’ or ‘stars’. Constructing discipline as part of interpersonal relationships (Hargreaves, 1986) in this manner clearly had a positive impact on the classroom environment for all concerned and avoided such conflict as was recorded in the English lesson.
Perhaps one of the largest sources of conflict arising from cultural dissonance at St Edward’s was the frequent combination of both an academic-elementary teacher and inaccessible pedagogical methods. When asked what they would change about St Edward’s, without fail all Gypsy traveller students identified at least one academic-elementary teacher and at least one lesson that was identified as using inaccessible methods as the thing they would most like to change.
This paper has presented the findings of a piece of qualitative research which set out to give voice to a group of Gypsy traveller pupils at one middle school in the English Midlands. From the results it is evident that conflict of various forms, but most often that of a subtle nature, was an everyday feature of Gypsy traveller educational experiences at St Edward’s
As previously recognised by a number of studies on Gypsy travellers, an education cultural dissonance can be found at the origin of the several sources of conflict within the walls of St Edward’s, from the problems concerning the curriculum and pedagogy, the sometimes difficult peer-to-peer relations and the presence of particular styles of teacher in the form of the academic-elementary model. Occasionally a mediating force could be identified, and when this was the case, far less conflict, subtle or explicit, was found. In St Edward’s the greatest mediator of conflict was perhaps the presence of those teachers who could be identified as developmental teachers. Such teachers tended to have positive working relationships with Gypsy traveller children and discipline was constructed through interpersonal relationships; this maintained poor behaviour at a low level. Importantly, these teachers approached their lessons in imaginative ways using a variety of resources that engaged the Gypsy travellers and brought the vital elements of accessibility and – crucially – relevancy to the educational experiences of Gypsy travellers. In these instances Gypsy travellers could be seen as being fully integrated into their classes and enjoying their experiences just as O’Hanlon and Holmes (2004) suggested would be the case. Obviously it is not only Gypsy traveller students whose classroom disruptions have roots in an inaccessible and irrelevant curriculum and pedagogy, but not all students find themselves in this position as a result of cultural dissonance (Liegeois, 1998).
The research raises a number of issues with regards to the education of Gypsy traveller children, not least those concerning teaching style and cultural identity. ‘Passing’ was the most common feature of school life amongst Gypsy travellers and a feature that certainly betrays actual or perceived hostilities and conflict. Gypsy travellers will only feel ready to be open about their identity when schools such as St Edward’s become truly multicultural, not just in rhetoric but in actual celebrations of difference (Liegeois, 1998). This cannot occur until the ignorance that prevents suitable ‘student-centred pedagogies’ being generated (Liegeois, 1998) is tackled and similarly with the ignorance that is the oft-cited font of racism and harassment. All of these problems have their roots in cultural dissonance which is itself the creation of either an ignorance of or a refusal to meet the needs of those outside of the dominant culture.
I would like to thank Alan Bradley (University of Warwick) for his continued support throughout this research and throughout my undergraduate studies. I would also like to thank the school for making time and resources available to me. Finally to Clementine Lonsdale-Bottet for her willingness to listen to my thoughts and for her endless encouragement.
 All names, including that of the school, have been changed to preserve anonymity.
Banks, A. J. and A. J. McGee Banks (1989), Multicultural Education: Issues and Perspectives, London: Allyn and Bacon
Boyle, M. (1999), ‘Exploring the Worlds of Childhood: The Dilemmas and Problems of the Adult Researcher’, in Massey, A. and G. Walford (eds), Studies in Educational Ethnography: Explorations in Methodology, Stamford: Jai Press, pp. 93-113
Department for Children, Schools and Family (2008), The Inclusion of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Children and Young People, London: HMSO
Derrington, C. and S. Kendall (2004), Gypsy Traveller Students in Secondary Schools: Culture, Identity and Achievement, Stoke on Trent: Trenthham Books
Hargreaves, A. and L. Tickle (eds.) (1980), Middle Schools: Origins, Ideology and Practice, London: Harper & Row
Hargreaves, A. (1986), Two Cultures of Schooling: The Case of Middle Schools, London: The Falmer Press
Hawes, D. and B. Perez (1995), The Gypsy and the State: The Ethnic Cleansing of British Society, Oxford: The Alden Press
Levinson, M. (2007), ‘Literacy in English Gypsy Communities: Cultural Capital Manifested as Negative Assets’, in American Educational Research Journal, 44 (1), 5-39
Liegeois, J. P. (1998), School Provision for Ethnic Minorities: The Gypsy Paradigm, University of Hertfordshire Press
O’Hanlon, C. and P. Holmes (2004), The Education of Gypsy and Traveller Children: Towards Inclusion and Educational Achievement, Stoke on Trent: Trentham Books
Okely, J. (1983), The Traveller-Gypsies, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Reynolds, M., D. McCartan and D. Knipe (2003), ‘Traveller Culture and Lifestyle as Factors Influencing Children’s Integration into Mainstream Secondary Schools in West Belfast’ in International Journal of Inclusive Education, 7 (4), 403-14
Sheehan, E. (2000), Travellers: Citizens of Ireland, Dublin: Parish of the Travelling People
Tyler, C. (ed.) (2005), Traveller Education: Accounts of Good Practice, Stoke on Trent: Trentham Books
Walford, G. (2001), Doing Qualitative Educational Research: A Personal Guide to the Research Process, London: Continuum
To cite this paper please use the following details: Wilding, D. (2008), ‘The Educational experiences of Gypsy travellers: the impact of cultural dissonance', Reinvention: a Journal of Undergraduate Research, Volume 1, Issue 1, http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/go/reinventionjournal/volume1issue1/wilding Date accessed [insert date]. If you cite this article or use it in any teaching or other related activities please let us know by e-mailing us at Reinventionjournal at warwick dot ac dot uk.
© Reinvention: a Journal of Undergraduate Research (2008). Full copyright remains with the author.
Rape and Sexual Assault in Japan: Potential Gender Bias in Pre-Trial Procedures
by Harriet Gray, School of East Asian Studies, University of Sheffield 
The legal systems surrounding sexual assault are contentious in many societies. However, this paper argues that specific social conditions in Japan reinforce and perpetuate a gender bias in its legal systems, which has far-reaching implications for a sexual assault victim’s experience in attempting to obtain justice. The paper contends that male and female interpretations of a given situation can be opposing because differential socialisation leads to ‘perceptual fault lines’ (Scheppele, 1989) or different understandings of the same situation. Given this, gender bias is conceptualised as a prioritising of the male point of view over the female, and an assumption that the male experience is objective and universal even though it is often limited to one gender group. This paper illustrates how this gender-biased view of sexuality, reinforced by the sex industry and prevalence of violent pornography in Japan, affects how different types of victims and attacks are understood, and the way in which they are treated in the pre-trial stages of the legal system.
Keywords: Gender bias, objectivity, social construction, perceptual fault lines, tsūjō rape, fushizen rape, rape myths.
Sexual assault is a notoriously difficult crime to prove in any legal system. It is often perpetrated without any witnesses other than the victim and aggressor, and (especially in the case of rape committed by someone known to the victim) it is necessary to prove something which does not need to be proved in any other crime: lack of consent. Objective evidence, except in the case of serious physical injury, is often absent, so it is necessary to rely on the testimonies of accuser and defendant. However, further problems arise in legal systems worldwide from the fact that they are often fraught with systematic gender bias.
This paper does not argue that men or women are homogenous groups with identical beliefs, or that male norms consciously disregard women’s suffering. Rather, I conceptualise gender bias as difference in understanding based on different socialisation, as in Scheppele’s (1989: 2083) explanation of ‘perceptual fault-lines’, misunderstandings caused by ‘different descriptions of events that grow from different experiences and perceptions’. Scheppele (1987: 1103-9) argues that there is often no such thing as a universal truth, but a number of descriptions of a given event which, while not corresponding with one another, are nonetheless all true. This is because differentially socialised groups, including men and women, interpret events in different ways. For example, men are more likely than women to have sexualised perceptions of a given situation, such as believing that a woman is behaving seductively when she thinks she is just being friendly.
Although male and female understandings of sex and violence may differ, Burns (2005: 9) argues that because of historical male privilege, the male perspective has come to be considered objective; that is, the male point of view is considered to be an objective universal understanding, even though it is specific to one gender group. Because legal systems (as well as conventional definitions of sexuality and gender) were overwhelmingly constructed by men, they are typically based on a male understanding of the world. When female views are seen as specifically feminine, subjective, and often irrational and overly emotional – a view which can be held by both men and women – they are unable to be generalised to wider human experience. Female views, when they do not fit in with dominant opinion, are thus seen as separate from the objective norm. This sidelining of female experience in favour of a male understanding cast as objectivity is what this paper considers as ‘gender bias’.
In the UK, of the rape cases reaching court in 2001-2002 (including those with guilty pleas), 57% resulted in convictions (Kelly et al., 2005: 92). For a number of reasons, including the powerful and discretionary role of prosecutors, the negative view of acquittals, and a judicial focus on apology, compensation and reconciliation, the acquittal rate in Japanese courts is exceptionally low: just 0.21% in 1984 (Johnson, 2002: 45-46; 68; 242-46). This also affects rape and sexual assault cases: 95% of rape trials ended in conviction in the 1990s (Diamond and Uchiyama, 1999). The highest hurdles to getting justice in a rape case, then, occur in the pre-trial stages, which is why this paper focuses on the early stages of the legal systems relating to rape and sexual assault.
This paper distinguishes between two kinds of rape: what Burns (2005: 4) calls tsūjō rape, the stereotypical crime perpetrated violently by an offender with no previous relationship to the victim, who cannot herself be blamed for provoking the attack; and fushizen rape, which complicates the stereotype in ways such as the offender already being known to the victim, or lack of overt physical violence. I argue that gender bias leads to these two types of rape being treated very differently by the legal system.
This paper focuses on rapes committed against adult females by adult males. However, because of the narrow Japanese definition of what constitutes rape (which, I argue, is in itself based in a specifically male understanding), I include indecent assault in my focus. In order to consider the issue of the gender bias against women innate in the system, I focus exclusively on attacks committed by males against females. I exclude attacks committed against minors because the relevant legal systems are different, and because consent is not an issue. I also exclude gang rape, as the societal norms associated with this are different from rape by a lone attacker, as is the law. I focus my research around rapes that happen in peacetime, as war changes both the conditions of rape, and the legal systems relating to it. 
Bearing in mind the ways in which law exists within its given cultural context, I first consider the ways in which sexuality is constructed in Japanese society. My analysis then shifts to the influence of rape myths on narrative and truth, and then to the ways in which Japan’s laws conceptualise sexual assault based society’s conception of sexuality. The following section explores the legal processes by which a sexual assault case proceeds from reporting to trial. Finally, I bring together the various strands of my analysis and consider the impact of gender bias on the pre-trial stages of Japan’s legal processes surrounding rape and sexual assault.
How does Japanese society construct sexuality?
In any culture, sexual crimes are defined in terms of whatever falls outside what society perceives as normal sexual relations. When considering how a society punishes sexual crimes, therefore, it is important to understand how that society understands ‘normal’ sexual relations; and as Burns (2005: 9) argues, we must bear in mind that the dominant understandings used to define what is normal tend to be masculine ones.
Male and female sexualities are socially constructed as different in many countries of the world. However, in Japan there are specific conditions – particularly the prevalent sex industry and the widespread availability of violent pornography – which have an important impact on the understanding of male and female sexuality.
Although the establishments of the highly visible sex industry, or mizu shōbai, are widely varied in terms of price and services on offer, in the vast majority of them men are waited on by women and sexuality, if not full sex, is for sale. Using prostitutes is less stigmatised in Japan than in some other countries, reflecting the social construction of male sexuality as well as Japan’s non-Christian religious history (Allison, 1994). The availability of sex for sale makes female sexuality into a commodity; as MacKinnon (1989: 172) puts it, ‘women’s sexuality is, usually, a thing to be stolen, sold, bought, bartered, or exchanged by others.’ This changes the perception of rape, from a violent and humiliating attack on a person’s autonomy, to theft of a possession. Furthermore, this concept robs women of sexual autonomy; they are mere objects, passive recipients of male desire. This is a gender-biased view: women’s sexuality is constructed not from women’s point of view, but from a (heterosexual) male point of view. This has far-reaching implications for the conceptualisation of sexual assault.
There is a huge amount of pornography available in Japan, much of which depicts violence and degradation against females; rape-themed videos account for about 20% of the pornography at chain video-rental stores (Associated Press, 2003). Rape-centred pornography is also widely available in manga (cartoon) form. Pornography is considered so normal that men will often read violent manga pornography, or men’s weekly magazines with high pornographic content, openly on the train, even when sitting next to female passengers.
In pornographic manga, sex, even when consensual, is generally something which is done to women rather than something in which they are active players. In fact, when female characters do express sexual desires of their own they are often rewarded with disinterest or anger from male characters (Allison, 1996: 62, 67). Furthermore, female characters are often shown as coming to enjoy their pain and degradation (Ōbuchi, 1991: 121). The message this gives out to readers is that women should not express their own sexual autonomy, but should enjoy being the mere objects of aggressive male desire. Again, this is a gender-biased take on female sexuality, seen from the point of view of the male obtaining pleasure from the female rather than the female defining her own pleasure.
As MacKinnon (2005: 130) explains, violent pornography eroticises the domination, violation and degradation of women. Reading violent pornography also alters the reader’s expectations of levels of aggression in normal sex, and how much women enjoy that aggression. Studies have shown that if a person perceives higher levels of enjoyment at rape for a victim, they are more likely to attribute more blame to the victim (Allison and Wrightsman, 1993: 137). It follows that someone who reads rape pornography in which the victim enjoys her abuse is more likely to blame victims.
As part of the social construction of sexuality, pornography and the prevalence of the sex industry play a role in socialising men and women into the idea that men have innately active and aggressive sexuality, whereas women are merely the passive objects of male desire; as the saying goes, ‘a man’s character should not be judged from below the bellybutton’ (Yunomae, 1996: 103-4). There is clear bias in this view, which is conceptualised exclusively from the male standpoint and denies women’s sexual autonomy.
Allison (1994: 130-31) discusses the tendency of both men and women in Japanese society to divide women into two very distinct groups: the sexualised and the non-sexualised. Use of the term ‘sexualised’ to describe the former group does not imply that these women are supposed to act on their own sexuality irrespective of the desires of men; rather that certain women, for example those who become prostitutes, are sacrificed for the protection of non-sexualised women, in that they are given over to satisfy men’s lust so that men will not feel the urge to attack more respectable women. Women within the sexualised group are demeaned and degraded, while those within the non-sexualised group are denied any sexuality at all.
These constructions of male and female sexuality place women in a sexually subservient position to men. Men have sexual autonomy, women are merely passive objects of male desire. ‘Men initiate, women consent’ (MacKinnon, 1987: 90). Men buy, women are bought. It is crucial to bear in mind this hierarchy, and the bias contained within it, when we consider the phenomenon of sexual assault.
The influence of rape myths on the problem of narrative and truth
Rape myths are ‘myths that serve to enhance male dominance and female passivity, and alternatively, to explain and perhaps justify the occurrence of rape’ (Allison and Wrightsman, 1993: 26). Rape myths are gender-biased stories, which falsely assert that being a victim is more traumatic for chaste than promiscuous women, and that rape is a sexual act caused when a woman provokes a man into losing control of his powerful innate sexuality. Such so-called provocation can consist of walking alone at night, wearing revealing clothing, or being promiscuous (Burns, 2005: 2). Rape myths rationalise sexual assault by claiming that women secretly desire to be raped (Ōbuchi, 1991: 122). They tell the story of tsūjō rape, a story where a stranger violently attacks an innocent young woman in the street, and imply that this is the only genuine type of rape. Such myths are biased because they are based in a masculine angle on rape and sex rather than the experiences of victims. This paper asks how widely rape myths are accepted in Japan, and considers how they determine which kinds of rapes, against which kinds of victims, constitute ‘real’ rapes and are therefore deserving of justice.
According to Nosaka (2004: 6-7), rape myths are deeply entrenched in the ideas Japanese people have about sexual assault. Furthermore, experiments have indicated a positive link between exposure to violent pornography and acceptance of rape myths (Ōbuchi, 1991: 123).
Rape myths dictate who qualifies as a true victim. Victims who do not fit into the stereotype of a ‘Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale victim: a young, innocent female out doing good deeds who is attacked by an unknown stranger’ (Walklate, 2007: 28) may be seen as undeserving or may not earn the title ‘victim’ at all, impairing their chances of obtaining justice through the legal system, and their ability properly to understand what happened to them (Walklate, 2007: 44). The relationship between victim and offender also influences whether someone is considered a true victim; although the wording of current Japanese law makes no mention of the relationship between victim and attacker, judges tend not to convict husbands of raping their wives as the belief persists that a husband has a right to sex with his wife (Burns, 2005: 7, 51, 129; Kainō, 1997: 299; Kinjo, 1986: 203). Tsunoda (2001: 186-91) argues that in order to secure a rape conviction in Japan it is important to prove that the victim holds the ideal of chastity. The focus on the character and actions of the victim shifts attention from the question of why some people offend to the question of why some people are attacked. This has the effect of placing blame on the victim, because if they had not been the person that they were, then they would not have become victims (Walklate, 2007: 51).
Furthermore, in the context of the division of women into sexualised and non-sexualised groups, a victim of sexual assault must be from the group of non-sexualised women to be perceived as a true victim; rape of sexualised women is commonly trivialised (Burns, 2005: 31). Paradoxically, however, by admitting to the rape, women are admitting to sexual contact and therefore placing themselves within the devalued group of sexualised women (Burns, 2005: 19). If a woman has been the target for a sexual assault, she is assumed to be part of the group sacrificed for the protection of more deserving women, and therefore less deserving of protection.
In the Japanese legal system, more than many other legal systems, there is a belief that, among all the partial narratives, there is one objective truth about what happened in a given situation (Foote, 2002: 34-35). However, Scheppele (1989: 2082) argues that legal decisions are made largely not on the basis of hard facts, but on the narratives told by those involved, based on their own interpretations of events. As explained by the concept of perceptual fault-lines (Scheppele, 1987: 1103-9), differences between multiple narratives of the same event may not mean that one is based on lies, but that the event has been honestly interpreted differently by the different parties involved. When different narratives of the same event are offered for consideration, the legal system must decide which ones are accepted as fact and which ones are dismissed as fiction (Scheppele, 1989: 2082-88).
As Burns (2005: 10) points out, when a subjective opinion fits in with dominant ideology and beliefs, it is likely to be considered an objective truth. Narratives which conflict with dominant understandings are marginalised. Therefore, narratives of sexual attack which correspond to dominant rape myths and masculine understandings of sexuality are likely to be believed, but those which go against these dominant narratives are discounted. Under these circumstances, the tsūjō rape victim is likely to be believed and the crime taken seriously, but in fushizen rape cases the defendant’s narrative is often given more credence than the victim’s, allowing the attack to be viewed as romance (Burns, 2000: 19; 25-31).
How is sexual assault conceptualised in Japan’s laws?
The legal understanding of sexual assault is based in prevailing social constructions of sexuality. This paper considers the specific law dealing with rape in Japan, and argues that the endemic gender bias within it leads to a number of problems.
According to Japanese law (see Appendix 1a), the fundamental characteristics to establish the crime of rape against a person over the age of thirteen are: the use of violence or threat; the victim being female; and that fornication takes place, meaning that the attacker must be male. As Burns (2002: 21) shows, the law requires that there be penetration of the vagina by the penis, without the consent of the victim, achieved by the use of violence or threat, and mens rea (criminal intent) i.e. the rapist intended to have sex with the victim against her will.
The definition of rape in Japan is limited to vaginal penetration by a penis, therefore excluding forced oral and anal penetration and penetration by any other object, as well as rape of men. Forced penetration of these kinds is downgraded to indecent assault (see Appendix 1b). These laws have remained basically unchanged apart from a few minor changes since they were promulgated in 1907 (Shiraishi, 2006: 242). This is despite the fact that many Western nations, and also Taiwan, have changed their definitions to include other forms of penetration (Yatagawa, 2003: 28-30); e.g. oral and anal penetration have been included in the British definition of rape since 2003 (see Appendix 4).
The focus on vaginal penetration by a penis can be explained by what it is that, historically at least, rape laws aim to protect. It is not because different forms of forced penetration cause more or less harm to a victim, but because only vaginal penetration by a penis carries the risk of impregnation, which risks the contamination of the patriarchal bloodline (Yatagawa, 2003: 30). This focus on biological reproduction as the purpose of sex prioritises and legitimises one kind of sexuality (heterosexual male) over others, with the effect of sidelining many experiences of both pleasure and violation.
As we have seen, the non-consent of the victim, and the use of threat or violence, are both considered characteristics of rape in Japanese law. Because evidence of violence is considered an objective measure, the level of violence, rather than the question of consent, is often used as evidence that a rape did or did not take place. In a case of an assault on a train, one prosecutor questioned by Johnson (2002: 208) said that the woman should have resisted more forcefully, because without physical evidence of a struggle, conviction was more difficult. This was despite the fact that no-one was suggesting that the victim had consented to this assault. Burns (2005: 84) explains this phenomenon: ‘She has no voice to express non-consent because she is reduced to a sexualised body, always already presumed to be consenting.’ Physical struggle is the only way she can express non-consent.
However, the idea of violence as an objective measure is questionable, as men and women interpret and respond to threat in different ways. Tsunoda (2001: 182) argues that what ‘violence’ means depends on whose standpoint you are viewing it from; specifically, the levels of violence judged acceptable in ‘normal’ sex vary vastly depending on who is judging. An act which men understand as intense caressing can be perceived as violence by women (Scheppele, 1987: 1103-5). Furthermore, women do not see violence as exclusively physical, as Scheppele (1989: 2091) explains: ‘women see force as starting much earlier than men do, before it turns to physical and observable violence’. A woman can therefore be forced into doing something against her will in ways other than overt physical violence. Acquaintance rapes, for example, tend to involve much less physical violence than stranger rapes, although the victims involved are no less forced against their will. Excessive focus on physical violence is therefore one of the many factors which sideline acquaintance rapes (Allison and Wrightsman, 1993: 65). Because legal systems are gender biased, they expect to find acts which men would view as force, often overlooking the force which the female victim experienced. Furthermore, because of gender bias this thinking fails to understand that due to socialisation, some women respond to fear by freezing rather than actively fighting back (Burns, 2005: 75, 104).
Proving rape is made harder by the fact that society judges a certain level of violence to be part of normal consensual sex. Not only does a victim have to prove that threat or violence was used, and that she resisted to the best of her ability; she also has to prove that the violence which took place was greater than expected in normal sex (Burns, 2002: 22-25). Violent pornography, depicting women enjoying violence and degradation in sex, perpetuates this problem.
The concept of mens rea in Japanese rape law means that if, from the point of view of the attacker, no harm was meant, no harm was really done. As male and female sexuality are constructed differently, the fact that sexual advances were unwanted from the female point of view does not mean that the male attacker held criminal intentions. The requirement of mens rea prioritises the male perspective over the female; it means that although the harm of rape lies in its meaning to the victim, the standard by which it is judged to be criminal lies in the meaning of the act to its perpetrator (MacKinnon, 2005: 111-14). A gender-biased perception of the female victim’s pleasure or pain is used to determine whether she has the right to feel violated. There are cases where an attacker, because of perceptual fault-lines, mistakenly but honestly believes that his victim wanted violent, forced sex. As MacKinnon (1989: 180-82) asks, ‘from whose standpoint, and in whose interest, is a law that allows one person’s conditioned subconscious to contraindicate another’s violation?’
The impact of gender bias on reporting and the decision to prosecute
The above-outlined gender-biased views of sexuality and sexual assault, and the rape myths which reflect them, have a profound effect on the way in which sexual attack is treated in the legal process. In particular, the biggest hurdle to getting a conviction for sexual assault is getting the case to court. In 1990-1992 the rates of prosecution for reported rapes were lower than those for robbery, bodily injury, and violent acts (Dussich et al., 1994: 38).  This paper analyses the effects of gender bias on the difficult process of getting a sexual assault case to trial, placing particular emphasis on the role of the Japanese prosecutor.
The first stage in the legal system is reporting. For obvious reasons, it is very difficult to say what proportion of actual rapes is reported. Such evidence as there is, however, indicates that it is a small proportion: a 1997 study found that only 13.9% of sexual assault victims and 9.5% of rape victims report their attacks to the police (Burns, 2005: 48). Because sexual assault is a crime which can only be prosecuted if there is a formal complaint from the victim (Appendix 2), low levels of reporting have devastating effects on prosecution rates.
There are many reasons why victims do not report sexual crimes, not all of which can be attributed to the bias in the system (e.g. Dussich et al., 1994: 37-38; Haley, 1991: 117-8 and Walklate 2007: 79). However, one reason is that women are aware of the bias present in the system; they realise they will face prejudice should they report their attack, discouraging many from reporting (Anon, 2004: 1). Many women fear that the courts will not see the attack from their viewpoint, especially in the case of fushizen rape. When the Tokyo Rape Crisis Centre compared its figures with official statistics, it found that that a far greater proportion of tsūjō rapes are reported and prosecuted than fushizen rape (Burns, 2005: 56), indicating that women are more likely to report when their attacks fit in with the gender-biased understanding of sexual attack, when they are most likely to be believed. Haley (1991: 118) says that ‘the potential litigant must perceive that he or she has something to gain by litigation.’ If a victim feels that, because of the bias in the system, she will have to undergo the trauma of a trial with little chance of getting justice, she will be discouraged from taking the case to court. Unfortunately, this perpetuates the bias: if unconventional cases are not brought before the courts, the courts are unlikely to change their stereotypical views of sexual assault.
Even if a victim does want to persevere with her case, there are still barriers which can stop her getting to court, and indeed in 2005 just 65.8% of reported rapes and 58.2% of indecent assault cases were prosecuted (Ministry of Justice (a)). One such barrier is Article 248 of the Code of Criminal Procedures (Appendix 3), which gives the prosecutor the right to judge a prosecution unnecessary, based on the character of the offender and the circumstances of the offence, even if there is enough evidence to convict. In other words, even when the authorities are confident that a defendant is guilty, they may, for a number of reasons outlined below, chose to suspend the case and not take it to court. In 2005, more than twice as many rape (6.8%) and indecent assault (6.6%) prosecutions were suspended as robbery prosecutions (3.0%) (Ministry of Justice (b): 323).
One reason for suspending rape prosecutions is, as Johnson (2002: 156) explains, that ‘prosecutors often seem to discount the seriousness of the offence – on the basis, at least in part, of their reduced regard for the interests of female victims.’ Gender-biased understandings of sexual assault minimise respect for the suffering of victims, and very few prosecutors are female: 10% in 2002 (Johnson 2002: 90-91). If prosecutors do not take a crime seriously, they will be more likely to suspend the case or advise potential litigants not to pursue it. As Johnson (2002: 207) found, this advice is often dispensed in an insistent manner which victims find difficult to refuse.
Additionally, prosecutors are further encouraged to drop cases by the negative view of acquittals. Acquittals are seen as a disgrace by prosecutors, the media, and the general public, and could damage a prosecutor’s future career prospects. Prosecutors therefore screen cases before putting them forward to trial, and those which are more likely to end in acquittal (e.g. fushizen rape cases) are more likely to be dropped. Japan’s current lack of jury trials makes it easier to predict the outcome of a given case; further encouraging prosecutors to drop those deemed too risky (Johnson 2002: 44-53; 106; 222-42).
Leaving aside the most serious crimes – a category which includes gun crime but not most sexual offences – a major concern of Japanese justice is rehabilitation of the offender. Harsher punishment is seen as hindering the reintegration of the offender into society, and in the name of rehabilitation, offenders who confess and offer compensation and apologies to their victims can often expect a more lenient sentence than those who do not. Prosecutors can use their discretion, taking into account the offender’s conduct and whether or not they have confessed and apologised, when recommending sentences, and prosecutor’s recommended sentences are usually imposed (Johnson, 2002: 75, 182-3, 185-90, 202-3, 245-46). They can also use this discretion, of course, in deciding whether to suspend the prosecution all together.
Focus on rehabilitation of both offender and victim, known as restorative justice, assumes that victim and offender can come together on equal terms. This fails to take into account the structural inequalities to which the female victim is subject, often being unequal in terms of power to her male attackers (Walklate, 2007: 124-26). The strong influence of restorative justice in the Japanese legal system further marginalises the needs of female victims, as rehabilitation of the offender is prioritised over rehabilitation of the victim.
The effects of gender bias on pre-trial procedures
Although Japan is clearly not the only country in which sexual assault law is problematic, this paper has argued that Japan’s legal systems relating to rape and indecent assault remain rife with gender bias. As we have seen, male and female understandings of situations can differ. Because male privilege means that male understanding is believed to be objective, society has constructed an understanding of sexuality, and based on this an understanding of sexual assault, centred on male norms. Women’s voices and experiences, when they differ from this male understanding, are marginalised. Although this differential construction of sexuality is not confined to Japan, the existence of the mizu shōbai and violent pornography heighten the problem by robbing women of their sexual autonomy and casting them as sexually subservient to men.
The gender-biased image of rape which society has created is a story of a tsūjō rape based on rape myths. This disregards women’s true experiences; as Burns (2000: 10) puts it, ‘women’s subjectivity is essentially erased from the dominant image of rape’. As we have seen, narratives which conform to dominant understandings are far more likely to be taken seriously by society and by legal professionals than those which do not. However, as women’s experiences of pleasure and violation are excluded from this definition, many attacks through which women experience all the harm of rape are not understood as ‘real’ rape by these dominant understandings. These attacks are trivialised. As MacKinnon (1987: 90) puts it, ‘we criticise the idea that rape comes down to her word against his – but it really is her perspective against his perspective, and the law had been written from his perspective.’
This gender bias affects the way that society understands sexual assault as well as all stages of the legal system. Some of these issues are visible worldwide, but the ability of Japanese prosecutors to suspend prosecutions allows gender-biased views more influence in preventing cases from getting to trial. Furthermore, as illustrated by the necessity of mens rea and the emphasis on offender rehabilitation, the viewpoint and experience of offenders is often prioritised over that of victims, preventing women from getting the justice and validation that they need to get on with their lives.
There is progress being made, for example the introduction of screens protecting victims while they give evidence, a step towards respecting the victim’s pain from her point of view, and the increasing use of expert witnesses to challenge the judge’s perceptions of how a victim should react (Burns, 2005: 143-47; 155). However, the fundamental problem – that sexual assault is conceptualised from the point of view of the male (including the attacker) rather than that of the female (including the victim) – does not seem to be changing. The legal profession needs to reconsider the ways in which it understands sexual assault, altering its perspective to place more emphasis on the victim’s point of view. If this is done, it is reasonable to expect that more victims will feel supported and empowered by a legal system that takes their suffering seriously and prioritises their needs, and that they will therefore be more ready to report attacks. Without this fundamental change in perspective and a conscious effort to eradicate gender bias, legal reform will have a limited impact, as legal professionals and society in general will continue to underestimate the varied forms in which sexual assault occurs, as well as the seriousness of its harm.
I would like to thank Dr Hiroko Takeda and Dr Hugo Dobson, both of the University of Sheffield, for their essential support and assistance in the writing of this paper, and also to my family, for their unending encouragement and love.
Criminal Code, Chapter 22: Crimes of Indecency, Fornication and Bigamy
A person who, using violence or threats, has sexual intercourse with a female person over the age of thirteen shall be guilty of rape and shall be punished with imprisonment of at least three years. The same shall apply to a person who has sexual intercourse with a female person under the age of thirteen.
Criminal Code, Chapter 22: Crimes of Indecency, Fornication and Bigamy
A person who, using violence or threats, commits an indecent act against a male or female person over the age of thirteen shall be punished with imprisonment of six months to ten years. The same shall apply to a person who commits an indecent act against a male or female person under the age of thirteen.
Criminal Code, Chapter 22: Crimes of Indecency, Fornication and Bigamy
Prosecution cannot be brought for the crimes of articles 176 to 178, or attempts to commit these crimes, without complaint from the victim.
第２章 公 訴
Code of Criminal Procedure, Chapter 2: Prosecution
When prosecution is considered unnecessary because of the offender’s character, age and circumstances, the seriousness and circumstances of the crime itself, and the situation subsequent to the crime, prosecution does not have to be brought.
UK Sexual Offences Act 2003: Chapter 42: Part 1: Sexual Offences
(1) A person (A) commits an offence if –
a. He intentionally penetrates the vagina, anus, or mouth of another person (B) with his penis,
b. B does not consent to the penetration, and
c. A does not reasonably believe that B consents.
(2) Whether a belief is reasonable is to be determined having regard to all the circumstances, including any steps A has taken to ascertain whether B consents.
(3) Sections 75 and 76 apply to an offence under this section.
(4) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable, on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for life.
(Sexual Offences Act, 2003)
 Harriet Gray is now a full time MA Gender Studies student at the School or Oriental and African Studies, University of London.
 In Japan, rape in wartime is a particularly important issue due to the history of the so-called ‘comfort women’ of World War Two (see, for example, Stetz and Oh, 2001).
Allen, M., T. Emmers, L. Gebhardt, and M. A. Giery (1995), ‘Exposure to Pornography and Acceptance of Rape Myths’, Journal of Communications, 45(1): 5-27
Allison, A. (1994), Nightwork: Sexuality, Pleasure, and Corporate Masculinity in a Tokyo Hostess Club, London; Chicago: University of Chicago Press
Allison, A. (1996), Permitted and Prohibited Desires: Mothers, Comics and Censorship in Japan, Boulder,
Allison, J. A. and L. S. Wrightsman (1993), Rape: the Misunderstood Crime, London: Newbury Park,
Anon (2004), Josei ni taisuru Bōryoku ni tsuite no Torikumu beki Kadai to sono Taisaku (Seihanzai, Baibaishun, Jidōbaishun, Jinshintorihiki (Torafikingu), Sekushuaru Harasumento, Sutōkā Kōi nado) (An) (Proposal: The issue of Violence against Women, which must be dealt with, and its Countermeasures (Sexual Crimes, Prostitution, Human Trafficking, Sexual Harassment, Stalking)), http://www.gender.go.jp/danjo-kaigi/boryoku/siryo/bo26-1.pdf, accessed 23 April 2007
Associated Press, (2003), ‘Rape Debate in Japan’, CBS News, 2 September 2003, http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/09/02/world/main571280.shtml, accessed 27 February 2007
Burns, C. (2000), Judicial Narratives on Trial: Constructions of Sex, Gender and Sexuality in the Japanese Courtroom, http://www4.gu.edu.au:8080/adt-root/public/adt-QGU20070403.114618/index.html, accessed 4 May 2007
Burns, C. (2002), ‘Competing Narratives of Romance and Rape: A ‘Marital Damages’ Trial in Japan’, Intersections: Gender History and Culture in the Asian Context, 7, http://wwwsshe.murdoch.edu.au/intersections/issue7/burns.html, accessed 16 March 2007
Burns, C. (2005), Sexual Violence and the Law in Japan, London;
Czarnecki, M. (2005), ‘Bad Girls from Good Families: The Degenerate Meiji Schoolgirl’, in Miller, M. and J. Bardsley (eds), Bad Girls of Japan, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 49-63
Davis, J. W.S. (1996), Dispute Resolution in Japan, The Netherlands: Kluwer Law International
Diamond, M. and A. Uchiyama (1999), ‘Pornography, Rape and Sex Crimes in Japan’, International Journal of Law and Psychiatry 22(1): 1-22, http://www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology/BIB/DIAM/japan.htm#data, accessed 20 April 2007
Dussich, J., Y. Fujiwara and A. Sagisawa (1994), ‘Decisions Not to Report Sexual Assault in Japan’, in International Victimology: Selected Papers from the Eighth International Symposium, Proceedings of a Symposium held 21-26 August 1994 by the Australian Institute of Criminology, pp 35-40, http://www.aic.gov.au/publications/proceedings/27/dussich.pdf, accessed 4 April 2007
Feeley, M. M. and S Miyazawa (eds) (2002), The Japanese Adversary System in Context: Controversies and Comparisons, Hampshire;
Foote, D. H. (2002), ‘Reflections on Japan’s Cooperative Adversary Process’, in Feeley, M. M. and S. Miyazawa (eds), The Japanese Adversary System in Context: Controversies and Comparisons, Hampshire; New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 29-41
Haley, J. O. (1991), Authority without Power: Law and the Japanese Paradox, Oxford;
Hōko (a), Keihō (Criminal Code), http://www.houko.com/00/01/M40/045.HTM, accessed 23 April 2007
Hōko (b), Keiji Soshō Hō (Code of Criminal Procedure), http://www.houko.com/00/01/S23/131A.HTM, accessed 1 May 2007
Johnson, D. T. (2002), The Japanese Way of Justice: Prosecuting Crime in Japan, Oxford: Oxford University Press Jones, G. (2002), ‘‘Ladies’ Comics’: Japan’s Not-So-Underground Market in Pornography for Women’, US-Japan Women’s Journal, English Supplement, 22: 3-31
Jones, G. (2005), ‘Bad Girls Like to Watch: Writing and Reading Ladies’ Comics’, in Miller, L. and J. Bardsley, (eds.), Bad Girls of Japan, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 98-109
Kainō, T. (1997), ‘Domesutiku Baiorensu to Seishihai’ (‘Domestic Violence and Sexual Control’) in Iwamura, M., M. Tsujimura, and M. Kamiya (eds.), Iwanami Kōza Gendai no Hō: Jendā to Hō (The Iwanami Lectures on Modern Law: Gender and Law), Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, pp. 281-311
Kakuchi, S. (2003), ‘Japan’s Battlers of Sex Abuse Confront Culture, Law’, Feminist.com: Women’s E News, 17 April 2003, http://www.feminist.com/news/news187.html, accessed 31 March 2007
Kelly, L., J. Lovett and L. Regan (2005), A Gap or a Chasm? Attrition in Reported Rape Cases, Home Office Research, Development and Statistics Directorate, http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs05/hors293.pdf, accessed 23 April 2007
Kimmel, M. S. and A. Aronson (eds) (2004), The Gendered Society Reader Second Edition, Oxford and
Kinjō, K. (1986), Hō Joseigaku no Susumu: Josei kara no Hōritsu e no Toikake (The Advance of Legal Women’s Studies: Questions to the Law from Women), Tokyo: Yūhikaku
Koshi, G. M. (1970), The Japanese Legal Advisor: Crimes and Punishments,
LaFree, G. D. (1989), Rape and Criminal Justice: The Social Construction of Sexual Assault, Belmont,
Lees, S. (1997), Ruling Passions: Sexual Violence, Reputation and the Law, Buckingham: Open University Press
LeMoncheck, L. (1997), Loose Women, Lecherous Men: A Feminist Philosophy of Sex, Oxford and
Mackie, V. (2003), Feminism in Modern Japan, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press
MacKinnon, C. A. (1987), Feminism Unmodified: Discourses on Life and Law, Cambridge,
MacKinnon, C. A. (1989), Toward a Feminist Theory of the State, Cambridge,
MacKinnon, C. A. (2005), Women’s Lives, Men’s Laws, Cambridge, Massachussets and London: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press
Ministry of Justice (a), Higijiken no Zaimeibetsu Kisojinin, Bukisojinin oyobi Kisoritsu no Inen Hikaku, (1992-1999) (Suspected incident Sorted by Crime, Number of People Prosecuted and Not Prosecuted, and the Prosecution Rate compared to Other Years), www.moj.go.jp/toukei/db/keiji06.xls, accessed 5 April 2007
Ministry of Justice (b), Shiryōhen, Hanzaihakusho 2006 (Data for the 2006 White Paper on Crime), http://www.moj.go.jp/, accessed 26 April 2007
Ministry of Justice (c), Heisei 18 Nenpan Hanzaihakusho no Aramashi (Dai 6 Hen) Tokushū Keijitaisaku no Shintana Chōryū (Outline of the 2006 White Paper on Crime: Number 6: Feature: New Trends in Anti-Crime Measures, www.moj.go.jp accessed 5 April 2007
Nakajima, M. (2003), ‘To Introduce a Gender Sensitive Perspective into the Law and Judicial System’, Women’s Asia 21; Voices from Japan, 11: 1-4 http://www.iiav.nl/ezines/DivTs/WomensAsia21/2003/No11.pdf, accessed 21 March 2007
Nosaka, Y. (2004), Kōkōsei no Seibōryoku Higai Jittai Chōsa (Investigation into the Actual Conditions of the Harm of Sexual Violence against High School Students), Asian Women’s Fund, http://www.awf.or.jp/woman/pdf/koukousei.pdf accessed 2 April 2007
Keisatsuchō (National Police Agency of Japan), Heisei 18 Nen Jōhan Hanzai Jōsei (Situation of Crime in the first half of 2006), http://www.npa.go.jp/toukei/seianki3/20060805.pdf, accessed18 February 2007
Ōbuchi, K. (1991), ‘Bōryokuteki Porunogurafi: Josei ni taisuru Bōryoku, Reipu Keikō, Reipu Shinwa, oyobi Seiteki Hannō to no Kankei’ (‘Violent Pornography: Its Relationship with Aggression against Women , Rape Proclivity, Rape Myths, and Sexual Responses’), The Japanese Society of Social Psychology, 6(2): 119-29, http://ci.nii.ac.jp/naid/110002785519/, accessed 4 May 2007
Russell, D. E. H. (ed.) (1993), Making Violence Sexy: Feminist views on Pornography, Buckingham: Open University Press
Saxonhouse, G. R. (2001), ‘How to Explain Japan’s Legal System: Review of Mark J. Ramseyer and Minoru Nakazato (1999), Japanese Law: An Economic Approach’, American Law and Economics Review, 2001; 3: 376-90, http://aler.oxfordjournals.org/, accessed 10 April 2007
Sexual Offences Act 2003 (2003), British Crown Copyright, http://www.opsi.gov.uk/ACTS/acts2003/20030042.htm, accessed 2 May 2007
Scheppele, K. L. (1987), ‘Review: The Re-Vision of Rape Law- Review of Real Rape: How the Legal System Victimises Women Who Say No by Susan Estrich’, The University of Chicago Law Review, 54(3): 1095-1116
Scheppele, K. L. (1989), ‘Foreward: Telling Stories’,
Shiraishi, R. (2006), ‘Nihon Kindai Keihō ni okeru Jendā’ (‘Gender in Japan’s Modern Criminal Law’), in Mitsunari, M. (ed.) (2006), Jendā no Hikaku Hōshigaku: Kindai Hōchitsujo no Saikentō (Comparative Legal History of Gender: A Re-examination of the Modern Legal Order), Osaka: Osaka University Press, pp 242-71.
Stetz, M. and B. B. C. Oh (eds) (2001), Legacies of the Comfort Women of World War 2,
Tsunoda, Y. (2001), Seisabetsu to Bōryoku (Sex Discrimination and Violence), Tokyo: Yūhikaku
Walklate, S. (2007), Imagining the Victim of Crime, Berkshire: Open University Press
Yatagawa, T. (2003), ‘Criminal Law and Violence Against Women: Rape in a Gender Equal Society’, Women’s Asia 21; Voices From Japan 11: 28 – 32 http://www.iiav.nl/ezines/DivTs/WomensAsia21/2003/No11.pdf, accessed 30 March 2007
Yunomae, T (1996), ‘Commodified Sex: Japan’s Pornographic Culture’, in AMPO - Japan Asia Quarterly Review (eds), Voices from the Japanese Women’s Movement,
To cite this paper please use the following details: Gray,H. (2008), ‘Rape and Sexual Assault in Japan: Potential Gender Bias in Pre-Trial Procedures', Reinvention: a Journal of Undergraduate Research, Volume 1, Issue 1, http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/go/reinventionjournal/volume1issue1/gray Date accessed [insert date]. If you cite this article or use it in any teaching or other related activities please let us know by e-mailing us at Reinventionjournal at warwick dot ac dot uk.
© Reinvention: a Journal of Undergraduate Research (2008). Full copyright remains with the author.
The Elusive Search for 'Truth': Oliver Stone, Postmodernism and History
by Nicholas Witham, Department of History, University of Warwick 
While scholars have recognised the importance of history in the films of Oliver Stone and have approached him as a filmic ‘historian’, none have engaged systematically with the historiographical currents present in his films. This paper answers the question, ‘is Oliver Stone a postmodernist historian?’ by analysing the form, content and context of three of his most popular films: Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July, and JFK. It concludes that while the currents of postmodernist theory and culture have had a considerable influence on the way Stone shaped his vision of American history, he is fundamentally a traditional, revisionist ‘historian’ working in the intellectual mould of the American New Left. His work is ultimately wedded to the concept of arriving at some suppressed or uncovered historical ‘truth’, even if he recognises that this ‘truth’ is often chimerical.
KEYWORDS: Oliver Stone, postmodernism, historiography, truth, JFK, Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July.
Robert Rosenstone has argued that because Oliver Stone’s films ‘have a conscious thesis about the past’, his ‘engagement […] with the discourse of history cannot be accidental.’ (Rosenstone, 2000: 37) Indeed, the director has made this point clear himself (Crowdus, 2001b: 183-85). However, the current scholarship pertaining to Stone’s body of work does not deal with the precise nature of his historiographical engagement with the American past. Such scholarly inactivity originates in the disinclination of most mainstream historians to admit that film can legitimately engage with historiography in anything more than a perfunctory manner. However, Philip Rosen has suggested otherwise by demonstrating that in filmic discourse, a ‘sense of explicit historiography [can be] conveyed […] as diegesis’, through the creation of a ‘temporal sense of a different past’ (Rosen, 2001: 172, 179).
If film can engage with historiography by presenting the viewer with a narrative-based vision of the past, one that is consciously constructed by the filmmaker, then the historical films of Oliver Stone undoubtedly qualify for an in-depth examination of historiographical intent. This paper breaks new ground by bringing Stone’s historical vision into conversation with the dominant trend in the historiography of the 1980s and early 1990s: postmodernism. It answers the broad question, ‘is Oliver Stone a postmodernist historian?’, and in doing so, engages in a method of comparative historiography, one that does not prioritise written historical discourse at the expense of cinematic history, but makes it explicitly clear that historical filmmakers have an important role to play in the construction not just of ‘myth and memory’, but of history itself. It therefore offers a reconceptualisation of Oliver Stone as a serious historian, whose historiographical vision should be directly understood in conjunction with that of the historical profession.
Postmodernism is a notoriously slippery term, one that has been to a large extent ‘emptied of content’ due to considerable over-use in both popular and academic parlance (Novick, 1998: 523-24). However, this paper identifies a core trajectory of postmodern philosophy that runs through the works of Michel Foucault, Hayden White, Frank Ankersmit and Frederic Jameson. The primary elements of this broadly categorised mode of thought are a rejection of meta-narrative as a form of discourse and a rejection of the potential for any notion of objective truth in the social sciences. Throughout the paper, these simplified notions are elaborated upon in some detail in order to conceptualise the effect wrought on American historiography by theories of postmodernism.
Simultaneously, the paper probes the structural and thematic elements of Platoon (1986), Born on the Fourth of July (1989), and JFK (1991) in order to position the role of postmodernist historiography within his vision of American history across the broad span of seven years and three films. It is concluded that in certain ways, the overarching structural elements of Stone’s historical films are shaped by conscious engagement with postmodernist discourse. However, in terms of the thematic content of his work, Stone is shown to bear far more historiographical semblance to the revisionist historiography that developed during the 1950s and 1960s, in conjunction with the American New Left. Through a brief examination of his films in their broader cultural and historiographical context, this apparent contradiction between relativist form and revisionist content is set against the broader background of the postmodern condition. In conclusion, it is asserted that whilst postmodernist discourse has undoubtedly influenced and augmented the historical career of Oliver Stone, he is by no means a postmodernist historian.
THE FORM: WORKING WITHIN THE BOUNDARIES OF THE POSTMODERN
Jean-Francois Lyotard has tersely summed up what he regards to be the most important basis for postmodern thought as a specific ‘incredulity toward meta-narratives’ (Lyotard, 1973: xxiv.) Furthermore, Frederic Jameson has made the point that ‘we are by now far enough along in our consciousness […] of historicity that we can forget about […] the evils of totalisation or teleology’ (Jameson, 1998b: 73). As such, the notion of history as an explanation of the movement of events through grand and teleological schemes of thought has been rejected. Rather, historical meaning can only be attached to the past in a temporal sense of what it means to its signifier (in this case, the historian). Essentially, ‘it can no longer be assumed that the truth of the signifier is guaranteed by some transcendental meaning or prior truth’ (Appleby et al., 1994: 215).
The rejection of teleological meta-narrative clearly informs Oliver Stone’s histories of American involvement in the Vietnam War. It has been noted that generally speaking, ‘the Vietnam warrior’s story is one of individual survival, not of group solidarity, still less a battle for discernable ideological or military objectives’ (Doherty, 1991: 259). Vietnam films such as Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979) and The Deer Hunter (Michael Cimino, 1978), as well as Stone’s offerings, are thus seen to reject the overarching and glorifying narratives of code-era World War Two pictures in a fashion that is typically postmodern (Doherty, 1991: 258).
Such themes are evident in Platoon. The film takes as its structure the narrative of a single company of soldiers, and narrows this focus even further, by singling out a primary protagonist in the form of Private Chris Taylor (played by Charlie Sheen). Taylor narrates his own story from his first landing in the jungle near the Cambodian border in September 1967 through to his departure from the war due to injury. What makes the film unique is that Taylor’s character is an autobiographical construct on the part of Stone, who has stated that the film was ‘based on my own experiences in the 25th infantry in Vietnam, near the Cambodian border in 1967/8’ (Floyd, 2001: 13). Indeed, Platoon’s publicity campaign and eventual box office success were based on its status as the first filmic representation of the Vietnam War to be directed by an ex-serviceman. In this method of presentation it is possible to view a highly specific and subjective structural tactic, one that differs vastly from that of the modernist pursuit of scientifically objective historical enquiry.
Stone’s personal involvement in the construction of the story means that he presents a highly selective history, one that privileges the personal experiences of individual soldiers over traditional subjects, such as military tactics and group camaraderie. In this regard, then, the film seems to be responding to the ‘semiotic awareness that all signs change meaning with time’ (Hutcheon, 1995: 90). Stone presents a military history that rejects a traditional narrative structure for a more personal and emotive one. For example, in the film’s numerous battle scenes, the viewer is presented with confusing fragments of the conflict almost solely from Private Taylor’s perspective. Far from proving the heroic status of the protagonist and his platoon, these scenes show that the utter confusion of Vietnamese jungle warfare negated any American military superiority, and essentially turned the war into a struggle not for overall victory, but for each individual ‘grunt’ to stay alive. Platoon in this respect fulfils the functions of a postmodernist text: it openly rejects a prevalent meta-narrative and substitutes it with a highly subjective and fragmentary alternative (a technique recommended in Foucault, 1991: 89).
Stone uses similar structural tactics in Born on the Fourth of July. The film takes the form of a biopic, focusing on the life of combat-veteran-turned-radical Ron Kovic (played by Tom Cruise). In the opening scenes, the film’s protagonist is portrayed as an American youth convinced by Cold War ideology that he should fight for his country against communism. Indeed, he goes as far as openly rejecting his younger brother’s developing interest in all things subversive (including the protest songs of a young Bob Dylan). But Stone breaks the grip of this standard ideological position through his presentation of the effects of the Vietnam War on the life of the film’s protagonist. Kovic’s perceptions of military life as the essence of heroism are shattered by his combat experience in Vietnam, where his injuries leave him paralysed from the waist down. As Marita Sturken has made clear, ‘Kovic is the classic noble grunt, whose realisation of the consequences of government lies comes […] at home, where he is ignored by a country that cannot recognise his losses’ (Sturken, 1997: 69).
Here Stone can be seen to be breaking down an official and highly ideological meta-narrative in a manner similar to that in Platoon. By contrasting within the film the different and changing cultural attitudes towards the war, he displays the influence of the historiographical point that ‘there is no God’s eye point of view that we can know or usefully imagine; there are only various points of view of actual persons reflecting the various interests and purposes that their descriptions and theories subserve’ (Putnam, 1981: 49-50). The film can thus be regarded as postmodern inasmuch as it rejects the form of official meta-narrative, and imposes its own alternative; one that is highly emotionally charged, but has no pretensions to omnipotent objectivity.
It is therefore possible to conclude that in both Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July, Stone was engaging with the currents of postmodern historical discourse by structuring his films around an obvious rejection of teleological meta-narrative. Indeed, it has been suggested that what all Vietnam films represent ‘is primarily a history of fragmentation […] codified as the wistfully empty reflections of nostalgia’ (Corrigan, 1991: 16). Because of their fragmentary and subjective approach to the past, Stone’s Vietnam films are excellent examples of this trend. As will be examined below, the films were in many ways projecting their own meta-narratives, but in terms of their structural form, they were undoubtedly influenced by the postmodernist desire to reject historical meta-narrative and assert a more fragmentary, personal view of history.
Even more so than his work on the history of the Vietnam War, Stone’s film JFK functions structurally as a postmodern text. The film consciously engages with the elements of postmodernist theory that radically restructure notions of truth and objectivity in historical practice. Such a trend has been noted by Alan Megill, who has written that in the postmodernist mode of historical explanation, ‘discourse creates its own reality’ (Megill, 1985: 343). This idea signals a deconstruction of the idea of ‘historical truth’, and is reinforced by Frank Ankersmit’s statement that ‘historical interpretations […] become recognisable […] through the contrast with other interpretations; they are what they are only on the basis of what they are not’ (Ankersmit, 1989: 142). Historical evidence is therefore seen as entirely discursive: not only is it shaped by the context in which it is formed, but it is also the product of the interpretation undertaken by the historian.
Consequently, texts are seen to have ‘multiple meanings’, and reading them is understood not only as ‘an act of decoding but also of interpretation’ (Poster, 1997: 43). It has been argued that knowledge cannot simply be revealed by careful sifting of information, and even that the epistemological existence of ‘truth’ is fundamentally questionable. As Edward Said made clear in 1978,
the real issue is whether indeed there can be a true representation of anything, or whether any and all representations, because they are representations, are embedded first in the language and then in the culture, institutions, and political ambience of the representer (Said, 1978: 272-73).
It is apparent, then, that in the explanation of knowledge put forward in postmodernist historiography, there cannot be a true representation of the ‘facts’ in an objective or scientific sense. Historical knowledge is therefore viewed as being multi-layered and infinitely complex.
Such notions clearly inform Stone’s structural presentation of JFK. The film tells the story of Jim Garrison (played by Kevin Costner), the New Orleans District Attorney who in 1966 headed a controversial enquiry into the events surrounding the assassination of John F. Kennedy. In his arrangement of the story, Stone presents his historical analysis in a number of different filmic media. Indeed, Stone has made such intentions explicit, stating that he ‘wanted to use multiple layers because reading the Warren report  was like drowning’ (Crowdus, 2001a: 102). A good example of this comes in Stone’s presentation of the events of the shooting of the president in Dallas on November 22, 1963. In his reconstruction of the incident, he uses three layers of discourse; the Zapruder film (the apparently documentary footage, or primary source), a black and white fictional reconstruction of events, and Garrison’s own visits to the crucial locations in Dealey Plaza, Dallas. Each discourse is equally vital in order for the viewer to fully understand Stone’s vision of how the president was shot.
The three viewpoints illuminate the fragmentary level of knowledge regarding the events of the assassination. Indeed, Vera Dika has quite correctly put forward the idea that the film creates ‘a wall of images that ultimately blocks [the viewer’s] access to the real’ (Dika, 2003: 223). By fusing fictional, quasi-factual and factual images together, Stone presents a vision of history as ‘a rhetorical construction of the historian’ (Medhurst, 1993: 140), rather than as an objective illumination of self-explaining ‘facts’. This means that the film effectively ‘requests the viewer’s active engagement in its methodology’ (Scott, 2000: 146). In structural terms, then, JFK clearly alludes to the fact that the past is ultimately unknowable in any form other than subjective interpretation, and therefore clearly parallels the assertions of postmodernist historiography.
Further examination of the link between this historiography and the structure of the film suggests an additional connection between the two. Hayden White has asked ‘how […] can any past, which by definition comprises events, processes, structures […] considered to be no longer perceivable, be represented in either consciousness or discourse except in an “imaginary” way?’ (White, 1987: 57). Such a notion suggests that within the discourse of postmodernism, ‘history is no less a form of fiction than the novel is a form of historical representation’ (White, 1985: 122). Indeed, such theoretical notions have been solidly grounded in the minds of a number of historians, for example Alun Munslow, who has posited that ‘the meaning of history as a story comes from a plot, which is imposed, or […] invented as much as found by the historian’ (Munslow, 1997: 11).
Consequently, within this mode of thought, the narrative form of historical discourse means that any scientifically realisable ‘truth’ is impossible, because the process of writing history is fundamentally imaginative. To this extent, then, Michel Foucault’s conception that ‘truth isn’t outside power, or lacking in power’ is relevant (Foucault, 1980: 131). In postmodernist historiography, historical knowledge is essentially an ‘invention that masks a will to power’ (Appleby et al., 1997: 208). Postmodernism therefore attempts to render historical objectivity, in the traditional sense, non-existent (Novick, 1988: 573).
It has been shown that ‘JFK is encased within the conventions of the traditional detective/crime film, a genre in which a fact-finding hero is drawn into an underworld of wealth, crime and corruption’ (Dika, 2003: 221). This is undoubtedly the case, but it is the contention of this paper that Stone subverts this classical form in a manner that is uniquely postmodern. The film is centred on Garrison’s quest for the truth of the events of the assassination. Throughout the investigation, the viewer is bombarded by the detective’s own interpretation of events, one that sits in stark opposition to the conclusions reached by the Warren report. Garrison concludes that Lee Harvey Oswald did not carry out the shooting, and that both the Mafia and CIA were involved in the conspiracy to kill the president. His dramatic speech in the New Orleans courtroom acts as the culmination of his ‘final truth’ on the matter.
However, the jury in the case against Clay Shaw finds the defendant not guilty on the charges of conspiracy raised by Garrison, a verdict that acts as a repudiation of the attorney’s conspiracy thesis. In doing this, Stone does not reject Garrison’s theory, and, as will be discussed below, it is certain that the director would subscribe to it rather than to the ‘official’ version of events. However, Stone’s structuring of the story blurs the distinction between fact and fiction, ‘thereby bringing under question the very principle of objectivity as the basis for which one might discriminate between truth […] and myth’ (White, 1996: 19). Stone himself has stated that ‘it’s important to recognise that […] history as we know it […] is shaped […] for the needs and perceptions’ of the generation that writes it (Crowdus, 2001b: 185). In structuring the film, he clearly took on board the notion that all history is narrative in form and contains a certain will to power, and that objectivity is an ultimately illusive goal. Therefore, in terms of its structure, JFK operates as an exemplary postmodernist text.
This section has examined some of the structural tactics adopted by Oliver Stone in his presentation of Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July and JFK in order to display the link between his presentation of history and postmodernist historiography. It has been shown that the aim of the director’s work on the Vietnam War was a deconstruction of the official meta-narrative of the conflict, and that JFK ultimately acts as a postmodernist rejection of objective truth within historical discourse. In terms of their structural form, then, Oliver Stone’s historical films can be regarded as working within the boundaries of the postmodern.
THE CONTENT: REVISIONIST, NEW LEFT, CONSPIRACY THEORY
However, it is the contention of this paper that in terms of the thematic content of his films, Oliver Stone’s historical vision displays few links to conceptions of postmodernist historiography. Indeed, this section will demonstrate that he engages with the discourse of a divergent historiographical movement: the revisionism of the New Left. It has been established that one of the fundamental aspects of postmodernist historical theory is the rejection of any notion of objective truth in historical enquiry. In contrast to this, Stone has admitted that the starting point for his historical films was the notion that ‘there’s truth everywhere, but you’ve got to dig at it’ (Crowdus, 2001b: 186). The issue at hand is not merely one of semantics; it must be recognised that the overarching theme of Stone’s work is that of a politically informed and polemical quest for an alternative truth, a theme in direct contradiction to the postmodernist historiography detailed above.
This can be demonstrated by a thematic exploration of the films under examination. The tagline for Platoon upon its release in 1986 was ‘the first casualty of war is innocence’. The film displays the gradual eradication of any innocence on the part of Private Chris Taylor through a number of harrowing incidents. To highlight these incidents, each is played to the soundtrack of William Barber’s ‘Adagio for Strings’. Taylor’s loss of innocence is explicitly portrayed when he steps off a helicopter to the sight of numerous body-bags, as his platoon torches a civilian village, during Sergeant Elias’s (played by Willem Dafoe) slow motion death scene, and finally as vast numbers of bodies are thrown into pits in the aftermath of a napalm attack. It is clear that what Stone gives the viewer is ‘the ability to see the reality of a bad and cowardly policy’ on the part of the American government (Halberstam, 2000: 119). His is a vision of history that is both radical and idealist; he believed he could display the ‘truth’ on screen.
This is a vision Stone pursued further in Born on the Fourth of July. Ron Kovic’s brief service time in Vietnam turns him into an ‘ostracised, disillusioned paraplegic who turns against everything he once loved’ (McCrisken and Pepper, 2005: 136). That Tom Cruise, the so-called ‘all-American hero’ and recent star of Top Gun (1986), played this character displays the personal degradation caused by a futile war. It has been suggested that the ruinous effects that combat wreaks on the strong, good-looking Kovic overtly questions the outcomes of a supposedly benevolent foreign policy in Vietnam (McCrisken and Pepper, 2005: 136-37). American values are shown by Stone to have been utterly corrupted in the pursuit of an aggressive and self-aggrandising policy, one that causes more harm than good to all of those directly engaged in the war.
A similar technique to that used in Platoon is employed to illustrate the overriding thematic concern of JFK; that the so-called ‘military-industrial complex’ was the fundamental cause of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. In the opening sequences of the film, President Eisenhower’s 1961 farewell address identifying the condition is played with the musical accompaniment of a military drum roll commonly associated with a firing squad. This highly charged piece of percussion is then attached to a number of scenes throughout the film, in order to draw the link between the ‘military-industrial complex’ and elements of the conspiratorial cover-up. Good examples of this are: during the autopsy on Kennedy’s body, at key moments during the reconstruction of the shooting, and as the jury delivers its verdict that Clay Shaw is not guilty of conspiracy. In presenting these themes, Stone’s obvious intention is to convince the viewer that his theory of conspiracy surrounding the assassination and its cover-up is factually legitimate, even though it relies heavily on informed speculation.
Such a method of historical practice has little to link it to any theory of postmodernism. Stone has been described as ‘a passionate […] moralist who has found a way to sustain a popular and powerful leftist vision of American life’, and it is clearly the case that strong political conviction informs his presentation of American history (Mackey-Kallis, 1996: 14). Indeed, it has been suggested that ‘Stone is much like the New Left historians […] who recognised the need to fill gaps in the American story’ (Davis, 2000: 139). It is clear that the parallels between the revisionist historiography initiated in the 1950s and 1960s and Stone’s historical vision are significant. It has been suggested that in Platoon the director engaged in ‘extended anti-war protest’ (Doherty, 1991: 264), and in that in Born on the Fourth of July, ‘the very notion of an exceptional America seems to be under question’ (McCrisken and Pepper, 2005: 137). Further to this, Stone himself has stated that in JFK he was ‘presenting the counter-myth to the myth of the Warren Commission report’ (Crowdus, 2001a: 99). Such highly politicised themes are also present in his earlier film Salvador (1986). In many ways, then, Stone appears to be performing the function of writing ‘history as rebuttal – rebuttal of some position of […] professional elders’, a task taken to be of primary importance by the New Left historians (Ungar, 1967: 1254). By attempting to revise dramatically what he deemed to be an outmoded analysis of history – one rendered useless by its nature as ‘official’ truth – Stone encouraged that history be ‘reread and retold in retrospect through the lens of conspiracy’ (Sturken, 1997: 64). As such, his vision parallels that of the radical history propagated by William Appleman Williams, Eugene Genovese, Howard Zinn and many other revisionist historians associated with the New Left.
The thematic elements of Oliver Stone’s engagement with the American past clearly relate a unique sense of history. The vision the director creates is a radical alternative to conformist historical discourse, one that adopts a ‘decidedly biased and controversial perspective’ (Kurtz, 2000: 177). It must therefore be realised that in attempting to impose such a view onto American history, Stone in his own way creates a meta-narrative. However, rather than being one of modernist, Whiggish progress, Stone’s narrative tells the story of the decline of American society since entry into the Vietnam War and the assassination of Kennedy. His films are clear attempts to impose such a discourse onto filmic historiography, and they represent an effort to excavate for the viewer the conspiratorial truth at any cost. As such, it can be concluded that in terms of the thematic content of his work, Stone was clearly influenced more by revisionist, New Left and conspiratorial interpretations of history than by any type of postmodernist discourse.
OLIVER STONE AND THE POSTMODERN CONTEXT
It has been noted that ‘paradoxically […] despite Oliver Stone’s acknowledgement that postmodern history may represent a dialogue among many truths, he seems to search in his films for the truth’ (Mackey-Kallis, 1996: 24). This paper has highlighted and explained the existence of this contradiction by going beyond previous scholars’ discussions to contrast the structural and thematic elements of the director’s historical films, and has displayed that its fundamental cause is his engagement with divergent modes of historiography. In order to explain this contradiction further, and establish a more unified vision of the effect of postmodernism on Stone’s work, this section briefly examines his films in their broad cultural and historiographical context.
Jameson has argued that ‘we are within the culture of postmodernism to the point where its facile repudiation is impossible’, and its pervading influence utterly inescapable (Jameson, 1998a: 29). This form of culture has been characterised as ‘commercial postmodernism’, a condition in which ‘the television screen has become the only reality, where the human body and the televisual machine are all but indistinguishable’ (Kaplan, 1988: 4-5). It must be recognised that any notion of cultural postmodernity implies a society where both filmic and televisual images are the most important modes of discourse. This conception of the postmodern cultural context is vital to an understanding of the importance of Oliver Stone as a historian.
It is unquestionable that more people will watch the director’s films detailing the events of the Vietnam War or the assassination of Kennedy than will ever read either scholarly or popular books on such subjects. The postmodern cultural condition has therefore thrust Stone into the limelight as a historian in a previously inconceivable manner. This has meant that rather than being able to focus solely on his role as an artist, he has been forced to regard himself at least in part as a serious historian. Such an engagement with scholarly discourse has been displayed in the release of fully footnoted screenplays for both JFK and his later film Nixon (1995) (Crowdus, 2001a: 103). Therefore, it is clear that the postmodern cultural context that privileges visual over written discourse has significantly influenced the director’s historical filmmaking.
It must also be recognised that Stone was operating in the context of radically developing historiography regarding the relationship between film and history. The emergence of postmodernist historiography led to the development of a view amongst a group of historians and theorists that film could legitimately engage with the discourse of history. In 1988 (after the release of Platoon but before Born on the Fourth of July and JFK), Hayden White put forward the notion that ‘the historical film draws attention to the extent to which history is a constructed or […] shaped representation of a reality’ (White, 1988: 1195). Similarly, and in the same edition of the American Historical Review, Robert Rosenstone indicated that if ‘history does not exist until it is created’, then film is a perfectly legitimate method of ‘doing’ history (Rosenstone, 1988: 1185).
Oliver Stone’s role as a historian has therefore been legitimated by contemporary historiographical trends. It has been argued that in his historical films, Stone was ‘doing no more than finding a plausible, dramatic way of summarising evidence that [came] from too many sources to depict on screen’ (Rosenstone, 1995: 125), and as such was working in a fashion no different to that of the conventional historian. From this unique vision of the role of the historical filmmaker emerged the view that Stone was in fact a serious and credible historian worthy of critical historiographical consideration (Rosenstone, 2000), a theoretical position from which this paper originates. Consequently, it must be recognised that while Stone was not an overtly postmodernist historian, the shift in historiography initiated in the postmodern intellectual context of the late 1980s and early 1990s undoubtedly augmented his image as a legitimate practitioner of American history.
This section has set the contradiction between postmodernist relativity and New Left revisionism that is located at the heart of Oliver Stone’s historical films against the background of his broad cultural and historiographical contexts. It has therefore been possible to summarise briefly the considerable impact of the postmodern condition on his historical filmmaking. Although the paradox identified by Susan Mackey Kallis does not disappear when Stone is understood as a product of the postmodern cultural context that emerged during the 1980s and 1990s, it is clear that this examination has more solidly grounded the main contention of this paper; that the historical films of Oliver Stone have been considerably influenced in various ways by discourses of postmodernism, even though he is ultimately not a postmodernist historian.
It has been shown that in a number of ways, the historical films of Oliver Stone engage with and were informed by the intellectual currents of postmodernist historiography. In terms of their formal structure, both Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July reject the meta-narrative of war as a positive force in history, and suggest a more personal and fragmentary method of recounting the past. Furthermore, JFK relates a unique sense of history as being unknowable except through fragmentary visions of events in the minds of those involved in the incidents and their historical interpretation. These are methods of presentation that would have been unthinkable without the influence of postmodernist historical theory on the structural filmmaking process.
Conversely, it has also been made clear that, in terms of their thematic content, the films under examination unconsciously engage with a more radical and politically motivated historiography. In attempting to uncover the conspiracies behind the Vietnam War and the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Stone imposed an uncompromising and highly politicised vision of history onto the events he analysed; one that explicitly questioned the moral sensibilities of those in power. It must be concluded that this radical political revisionism was the primary concern of the director; his overarching aim was to uncover for the general public the conspiratorial ‘truth’ behind the most controversial moments in recent American history. In these respects, his engagement with American history was very similar to that of the New Left historians of the 1950s and 1960s.
By examining the cultural and historiographical contexts in which Stone made his historical films, it has been possible to extend an understanding of the influence of postmodernist theory on their creation and reception. It has been shown that the postmodern reliance on filmic and televisual culture for historical information has prompted Stone to take his role as a historian more seriously. It has also been demonstrated that shifts in film theory since the late 1980s have meant that Stone has become accepted in certain parts of the historical profession as a legitimate historian.
However, it must be concluded that Oliver Stone is by no means a postmodernist historian. His thematic presentation of history claims for itself a degree of final truth and factuality that is irreconcilable with the epithet. Indeed there is no evidence that the director regarded himself in any way as such. Even so, the role of postmodernist historiography in his historical filmmaking must be recognised as being significant. Not only has it affected the narrative structure of his films, it has played a considerable role in their reception amongst professional historians and the viewing public. As a direct consequence, they have gone on to become some of the most highly praised and important pieces of recent American historical filmmaking.
I would like to thank Dr. Jennifer Smyth of the University of Warwick for her help and encouragement with the conception and writing of this paper as a second-year undergraduate project, as well as Russell Coombes and Elizabeth Simpson for their comments and suggestions during the editing process.
 Nicholas Witham is now a candidate for the degree of Masters by Research in American Studies at the University of Nottingham. He will start a PhD there in September 2008.
 The Warren Report was the product of the official government enquiry into the events of the shooting of John F Kennedy, named after the enquiry's head, Chief Justice Earl Warren, and published in 1964. It concluded that Kennedy was shot by a lone assassin, namely Lee Harvey Oswald.
The Deer Hunter, Michael Cimino, EMI Films (1978)
Apocalypse Now, Francis Ford Coppola, Zoetrope Studios (1979)
Salvador, Oliver Stone, MGM (1986)
Platoon, Oliver Stone, MGM (1986)
Top Gun, Tony Scott, Paramount (1986)
Born on the Fourth of July, Oliver Stone, Universal (1989)
JFK, Oliver Stone, Warner Brothers (1991)
Nixon, Oliver Stone, Cinergi (1995)
Ankersmit, F. R. (1989), ‘Historiography and Postmodernism’, History and Theory, 28 (2), 137-53
Appleby, J., L. Hunt, and M. Jacob (1994), Telling the Truth about History,
Corrigan, T. (1991), A Cinema Without Walls: Movies And Culture After Vietnam,
Crowdus, G. (2001a), ‘Clarifying the Conspiracy: An Interview With Oliver Stone’, in Silet, C. L. P. (ed.), Oliver Stone: Interviews, Jackson: University Press of
Crowdus, G. (2001b), ‘History, Dramatic Licence, and Larger Historical Truths: An Interview with Oliver Stone’, in Silet, C. L. P. (ed.), Oliver Stone: Interviews, Jackson: University Press of
Davies, J. E. (2000), ‘New Left, Revisionist, In-Your-Face History: Oliver Stone’s Born on the Fourth of July Experience’, in Toplin, R. B. (ed.), Oliver Stone’s USA, Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, pp. 135-48
Dika, V. (2003), Recycled Culture in Contemporary Art and Film: The Uses of Nostalgia, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Doherty, T. (1991), ‘Witness to War: Oliver Stone, Ron Kovic and Born On The Fourth Of July’, in Anderegg, M. (ed.), Inventing Vietnam: The War In Film And Television, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, pp. 251-68
Floyd, N. (2001), ‘Radical Frames of Mind: An Interview with Oliver Stone’, in Silet, C. L. P. (ed.), Oliver Stone: Interviews, Jackson: University Press of
Foucault, M. (1980), ‘Truth and Power’, in Gordon, C. (ed.), Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings, 1972-1977, Brighton: Harvester Press, pp. 109-33
Foucault, M. (1991), ‘Nietzsche, Genealogy, History’, in Rabinow, P. (ed.), The Foucault Reader, London: Penguin, pp. 76-100
Halberstam, D. (2000), ‘Platoon’, in Toplin, R. B. (ed.), Oliver Stone’s USA, Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, pp. 110-19
Hutcheon, L. (1988), A Poetics of Postmodernism: History, Theory, Fiction,
Jameson, F. (1998a), ‘Theories of the Postmodern’, in Jameson, F. (ed.) The Cultural Turn: Selected Writings On The Postmodern, 1983-1998, London: Verso, pp. 21-32
Jameson, F. (1998b), ‘“End Of Art” Or “End Of History”?’, in Jameson, F. (ed.) The Cultural Turn: Selected Writings on the Postmodern, 1983-1998, London: Verso, pp. 73-92
Kaplan, E. A. (1988), ‘Introduction’, in Kaplan, E. A. (ed.), Postmodernism and its Discontents: Theories, Practices, London: Verso, pp. 1-32
Kurtz, M. L. (2000), ‘Oliver Stone, JFK, And History’, in Toplin, R. B. (ed.), Oliver Stone’s USA, Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, pp. 166-77
Lyotard, J. (1979), The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge, Manchester: Manchester University Press
Mackey-Kallis, S. (1996), Oliver Stone’s America: ‘Dreaming the Myth Outwards’, Boulder: West View Press
McCrisken, T. B., and A. Pepper (2005), American History and Contemporary Hollywood Film, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press
Medhurst, M. (1993), ‘The Rhetorical Structure of Oliver Stone’s JFK’, in Critical Studies in Mass Communication, 10, 128-43
Megill, A. (1985), Prophets of Extremity: Nietzsche, Heidegger, Foucault, Derrida, Berkeley: University of California Press
Munslow, A. (1997), Deconstructing History, London: Routledge
Novick, P. (1988), That Noble Dream: The “Objectivity Question” and the American Historical Profession, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Poster, M. (1997), Cultural History and Postmodernity: Disciplinary Readings and Challenges,
Putnam, H. (1981), Reason, Truth and History, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Rosen, P. (2001), Change Mummified: Cinema, Historicity, Theory, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press
Rosenstone, R. A. (1988), ‘History in Images/History in Words: Reflections on the Possibility of Really Putting History onto Film’, American Historical Review, 93 (5), 1173-85
Rosenstone, R. A. (1995), Visions of the Past: The Challenge of Film to our Idea of History, Harvard: Harvard University Press
Rosenstone, R. A. (2000), ‘Oliver Stone as Historian’, in Toplin, R. B. (ed.), Oliver Stone’s USA, Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, pp. 26-39
Scott, I. (2000), American Politics in Hollywood Film, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press
Sturken, M. (1997), ‘Re-Enactment, Fantasy, and The Paranoia of History: Oliver Stone’s Docudramas’, History and Theory, 36 (4), 64-79
Said, E. W. (1978), Orientalism,
Ungar, I. (1967), ‘The “New Left” and American History: Some Recent Trends in United States Historiography’, American Historical Review, 72 (4), 1237-63
White, H. (1985), ‘The Fictions of Factual Representation’, in Tropics of Discourse: Essays in Cultural Criticism, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press
White, H. (1987), The Content of the Form: Narrative Discourse and Historical Representation, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press
White, H. (1988a), ‘Historiography and Historiophoty’, American Historical Review, 93 (5), 1193-99
White, H. (1988b), ‘The Modernist Event’, in Sobchack, V. (ed.), The Persistence of History: Cinema, Television and The Modern Event,
To cite this paper please use the following details: Witham, N. (2008), ‘The Elusive Search for 'Truth': Oliver Stone, Postmodernism and History', Reinvention: a Journal of Undergraduate Research, Volume 1, Issue 1, http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/go/reinventionjournal/volume1issue1/witham Date accessed [insert date]. If you cite this article or use it in any teaching or other related activities please let us know by e-mailing us at Reinventionjournal at warwick dot ac dot uk.
© Reinvention: a Journal of Undergraduate Research (2008). Full copyright remains with the author.
Overspill Policy and the Glasgow Slum Clearance Project in the Twentieth Century: From One Nightmare to Another?
by Lauren Paice, Department of History, Oxford Brookes University
This article aims to investigate the methods used by the authorities in Glasgow to try and reduce the inner-city population, many of whom resided in Victorian slum tenements. The study will focus on the overspill solution implemented in the post-war years, and in particular on the peripheral housing estates. These housing estates were to offer sanitary living conditions and a new way of life to those displaced from the slums under the city’s regeneration movements, yet problems rapidly surfaced within them. By investigating both the planners’ intentions for the housing schemes and the reality of life there for many residents, this article hopes to offer an in-depth analysis as to whether or not the tenants once again found themselves living in slum conditions.
Other studies conducted on the regeneration of Glasgow often gloss over the issue of the peripheral estates; this study places these estates as the focus of the investigation and hopes to illustrate exactly why they have come in for widespread criticism since their construction.
KEYWORDS: Urban regeneration, slum clearances, Glasgow, overspill, housing estates
The four main housing estates which lie on Glasgow’s periphery have, over the course of their existence, attracted international attention. Yet more often than not, the publicity afforded to Pollok, Drumchapel, Castlemilk and Easterhouse has been negative in nature. As recently as December 2000, 27 percent of tenants in Easterhouse, and 24 percent of tenants in Drumchapel, believed that their houses should be destroyed (Housing Tenants Survey, 2000: 3). Why is this the case, when these houses were built as recently as forty years ago? This article aims to investigate the methods used by the authorities in Glasgow to try and reduce the inner city population – many of whom resided in Victorian slum tenements – and will focus on the overspill solution implemented in the post-war years, particularly in the peripheral housing estates.
While much has been written about post-war accommodation and housing policies (Dunleavy, 1981; O'Hara, 2006), the number of sources dedicated solely to the issue of Glasgow's overspill policy and the peripheral housing estates is decidedly fewer. A vast number of sources – such as those by Devine (1999), Gauldie (1974) and Brennan (1959) – highlight the growth of Britain, and more specifically that of Glasgow, into a leading industrial centre, and the problems which accompanied this growth. Other historians, such as Pacione (1995), Keating (1998) and Rodger (1989), have examined the decisions taken by the Glasgow city planners, and the subsequent policies which materialised. Although mentioned in many sources, the subject is too often glossed over under the wider topic of urban regeneration. Indeed, it is extremely difficult to find a major publication that deals exclusively with the successes and failures of the peripheral schemes. Whilst still a part of the larger process of urban regeneration, the importance of the Glasgow overspill policy means it should command a certain amount of dedicated literature, yet this is not currently the case. This study aims to address this issue and to evaluate whether the Glasgow slum clearance programme completely ameliorated the poor living conditions of many thousands of working class citizens, or whether the problem was simply transferred elsewhere.
BACKGROUND TO A PROBLEM
The vast urban population growth experienced from the early nineteenth century onwards as a result of the processes of industrialisation created an urgent need for more housing. Yet, as Gauldie comments, 'even at the beginning of the century the pace of population growth was too fast for the builders and scores of families were crowding into houses built to accommodate one or two' (Gauldie, 1974: 73). While one cannot deny that house building in Glasgow occurred, overcrowding remained a long-term problem due to the ill-distribution of housing between income groups. As the wealthy members of society moved to the suburbs, the poorest of the working class masses remained packed into high-density areas, with numbers rising every year due to the sheer number of migrants pouring into the city (Devine, 1999: 334). Evidence of this situation in Glasgow was highlighted by Edwin Chadwick, who mentioned that in Blackfriars’ Parish – the most densely populated area of the city in 1841 – the population had increased by 40 percent since 1831 while the number of new dwellings had not increased at all (Chadwick, 1842: 189). Moreover, the demolition of old buildings in an attempt to improve public health proved detrimental to the overcrowding issue, as the City Improvement Trust had displaced 25,375 people by 1876, but by 1902 had built only 1646 new houses (Gauldie, 1974: 86).
The population growth in Glasgow was at a higher rate compared to that of other centres of population such as Birmingham or London, largely due to immigration from the Highlands and from Ireland. Indeed, in 1861, after a wave of immigration from Ireland, 63.2% of the Glasgow population lived at densities of more than two persons per room and by 1921 around 40% of the population still lived at this density (Keating, 1988: 4). A crucial explanation as to why the Glasgow situation was so unique was that the city itself had little scope for expansion. Due to the shipping trade it was impractical to bridge the river Clyde, and the city was effectively blocked in from all sides. While the Campsie Hills to the north of the city were too steep to build on, boggy moorlands occupied the eastern, southern and south-western areas beyond the city, and the built-up area of Glasgow already joined such places as Paisley and Renfrew (Brennan, 1959: 25). Consequently, by the mid-nineteenth century a huge urban population was being contained in a tiny area in Central Glasgow, creating 'a press of human beings more closely packed together than in any other city in Europe' (Pacione, 1995: 115).
Glasgow in the 1920s and 1930s had a higher level of slums of the worst kind and much more overcrowding than anywhere else in Britain (Damer, 1989: 76). By 1945, around 700,000 people lived on 1800 acres, with one seventh of Scotland’s population compressed into three square miles of central Glasgow (Pacione, 1995: 161). Images 1-3 of the city highlight the severity of the problem faced by Glasgow Corporation in tackling the overcrowded slums issue. By this time the existence of a housing crisis in Glasgow was universally acknowledged. Collective agreement on a solution was harder to find, however, and opinions were divided over whether regeneration would be able to take place within existing municipal boundaries (Keating, 1988: 17).
Two conflicting schools of thought arose, with the then City Engineer Robert Bruce and the Glasgow Corporation leading the field in believing that Glasgow could make improvements and re-house all citizens by filling in the less densely populated areas of the city, and rebuilding where necessary at even higher densities. On the other hand, a 1946 report by the Clyde Valley Regional Planning Advisory Committee (CVRPAC) argued the need for a green belt of unbuilt land around Glasgow, with a population overspill to new towns and areas beyond it. This mirrored the view at the time of the British Planning profession, and by 1951, following the defeat of Bruce’s plans and a complete lack of available sites within the city which were suitable for building, the Corporation now recognised that population must be transferred away from Glasgow.
Image 1: Slum Housing at Charlotte Lane, Central Area of Glasgow, January 1947 (Mitchell Library: a)
Image 2: Slum housing at Lawmoor Street, Hutchesontown, June 1947 (Mitchell Library: b)
Image 3: Slum Housing at Crown Street, The Gorbals, December 1946 (Mitchell Library: c)
The late 1940s and 1950s witnessed the development of four huge peripheral Corporation housing schemes outside of Glasgow. Map 1 shows the location of each scheme, with the construction of Pollok to the south-west of the city beginning before the Second World War and finishing in 1951. The construction of Drumchapel in the north-west was approved in 1951, followed by the commencement of work in 1954 in Castlemilk to the south of the city, then Easterhouse on the far eastern boundary of Glasgow in 1955 (Worsdall, 1979: 139-42). Moreover, by 1957 a total of 29 comprehensive development areas (CDAs) for immediate redevelopment had been identified in the city, with a decision taken to demolish dwellings at a rate of 4500 per annum (Pacione, 1995: 163). It was from these areas that many of the residents of the new peripheral schemes originated.
Map 1: The Location of Glasgow's Four Peripheral Estates (CES Ltd, 1985: 2)
A DREAM SOLUTION?
While many housing developments were proposed in the 1930s, the disruption and destruction caused by war meant that by the 1950s, the housing crisis in Glasgow had reached epic proportions. The sheer number of people requiring re-housing meant that the construction of the peripheral estates needed to be undertaken as quickly as possible. With each estate designed to accommodate up to 50,000 people, full-scale clearance of CDAs such as Govan and the Gorbals began, which resulted in many people leaving communities where their families had resided for generations in the search for better homes. While these village-like communities were being dispersed, it was hoped that the new estates would allow new communities to be formed. The movement of people from large cities to peripheral areas was rapidly becoming a recognised solution in many areas of England, but due to the scale of its problem, Glasgow led the way in the fields of urban regeneration and the redistribution of population. The Glasgow peripheral housing schemes experiment was therefore undoubtedly under close scrutiny from all angles, to be held up as an example of what to do or what not to do in future projects.
The peripheral schemes were to have many architectural and structural similarities, with only a few different types of housing making up the majority of all accommodation, as images 4-7 show. Each scheme was to feature communal facilities and green spaces, arranged over an area similar to the size of a new town. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the experiences of many tenants of the schemes were often of a similar nature. The relatively short timescale in which all four estates were built meant that there had been no time to observe the successes or failures of a preliminary estate before pressing ahead with the subsequent three. As the first housing scheme undertaken, Pollok was started in 1934 and completed by 1951. The name referred to an area covered by several housing schemes and by 1951 the Pollok peripheral scheme contained over 9000 houses for slightly fewer than 50,000 people (Worsdall, 1979: 140). While a density of 12 houses per acre was both desired and achieved, the density of occupation in some places reached 65 persons per acre due to the average household being much bigger than originally planned for (Brennan, 1959: 47). Drumchapel was subsequently built in the early 1950s in an effort to tackle the post-war housing shortage. Here, Glasgow was to have a self-contained satellite township with its own town centre, shops, schools, churches, open spaces and complete communal services and amenities to serve 7500 houses (Worsdall, 1979: 139-40).
By November 1941, Castlemilk was envisaged as the largest of all the schemes, covering an area of two and a half square miles but by the time work started in 1953, the plan had grown to include the development of 8300 houses at an estimated cost of £16 million (Worsdall, 1979: 141). Like Drumchapel, Castlemilk was planned as a township with five neighbourhood units each containing their own shops, schools and churches (Worsdall, 1979: 141-2). Work began in 1955 on another township style project at Easterhouse. Situated just over four miles from the centre of Glasgow, the project contained thirteen local authority housing schemes as part of the Greater Easterhouse area, with almost exclusively working class households and large families re-homed within its borders (CES Ltd, 1985: i). No other location in the UK could compare with the level of council housing built in Scotland in the twenty years after the war. Between 1945 and 1965, approximately 86 percent of all houses built were in the public sector (Devine, 1999: 559).
Image 4: Corporation Housing at Pollok, 1950 (Mitchell Library: d)
Image 5: Corporation Housing at Drumchapel, January 1954 (Mitchell Library: e)
Image 6: Corporation Housing at Birgidale Road, Castlemilk, 1958 (Glasgow City Archives: a)
Image 7: Corporation Housing at Duntarvie Quadrant, Easterhouse, 1959 (Glasgow City Archives: b)
Accommodation for most people on the new peripheral estates represented a completely different way of life in every sense. Families were given more living space than ever before, accompanied by modern facilities within the houses, causing an overall sense of excitement to be felt by new residents as the schemes opened. When recalling first impressions of the schemes, one resident of Easterhouse commented 'it was enormous to me…just like walking into a big castle. It was all fields roundabout – it was common heath, so we had plenty of places to run…' (CES Ltd, 1985: A11).
The planners intended to fill the schemes with play areas and green spaces, a luxury that many had never before experienced. In accommodation terms, houses built from a modern design were intended to be both wind- and weather-proof, and at a much lower density to the overcrowded slums. Moreover, many were to feature balconies and back and front doors, with indoor toilets in every house, another new experience for many families used to sharing one toilet with three other families living on the same floor of their tenement block. Accommodation was also intended to feature such modern amenities as electric heating, hot water immersers and laundry facilities of a more private nature than had ever been experienced by many of the new tenants. By comparison, the single-end style of apartment from which many had moved was frequently found on a landing of four apartments, all sharing the same single outdoor toilet. Each single end consisted of only one room and a cupboard, with occupants all sleeping in the same room (Worsdall, 1979: 47). On top of modern accommodation, the intended advantages of living in the peripheral schemes included the construction of new, modern schools, shops and social facilities. It was envisaged that with a ready labour pool, small businesses and industries would operate locally to generate employment for a large number of residents. Furthermore, sports facilities were to be readily available to provide the peripheral estates with a way of life that was previously unimaginable to most inner city residents.
Without question, the introduction of the peripheral housing schemes in Glasgow had a huge impact, not just on those having to relocate, but in the city as a whole, as the renewal of the 29 areas earmarked for comprehensive redevelopment could begin at full speed. The wholesale demolition of inner-city tenements that followed in the Gorbals and the other CDAs in subsequent years removed a significant number of the Victorian slums that had housed so many people in sub-standard conditions for too long. Those displaced were highly likely to find themselves placed in one of the peripheral schemes. While relocation was often an unpopular choice, the availability of new housing showed the efforts being made by the Corporation to address the Glasgow housing problem. By 1981, private ownership of houses was in the minority, with 63% being publicly owned after the purchase of property in the CDAs by the Corporation in order for regeneration to take place (Pacione, 1995: 24).
Despite the overspill policy and the CDA operation, a severe housing problem continued into the 1960s as the rate and scale of decay in the old tenements continued to outstrip the pace of building new accommodation. Moreover, problems with municipal-owned housing began to surface, both in the new, centrally located high-rise flats and in the peripheral schemes, where densities of up to 100 persons per acre, 40% higher than those recommended in the 1940s, had been achieved (Keating, 1988: 23). Although all of the housing projects introduced held the regeneration of Glasgow at their hearts, some of the attempted solutions threatened very quickly to become problems themselves. By looking at the peripheral schemes from the late 1960s onwards, one can see a whole new set of housing problems for the Glasgow Corporation, as estates such as Easterhouse and Drumchapel threatened to become modern day slums for many reasons.
THE REALITY OF PERIPHERAL LIVING
In the name of regeneration, many long-established communities across the city were torn apart in quick succession, with neighbours and extended family often being re-housed far apart from each other. While life in the peripheral schemes undoubtedly offered most people a lifestyle unachievable in the slums, many encountered a sense of isolation as the gloss of their new accommodation rapidly rubbed off.
All too frequently, initial enthusiasm turned sour as the ideal of the new housing estates turned out to be a far cry from reality. Almost from the outset, the peripheral schemes were plagued with common problems affecting both the residents and the accommodation in which they lived. The extent of the troubles proved to be so great that it created a widespread belief amongst many historians and social commentators of the limited success of the housing estates. As Michael Keating stated, 'these peripheral schemes were themselves to pose some of the most severe social, economic and environmental problems faced by urban policy in the 1980s' (Keating, 1988: 24).
The estates manifested problems from the start, due primarily to the major disruption of the extended family and the social and employment networks that had characterised inner city life for so long (Maclennan and Gibb, 1988: 43-4). Families were no longer close to each other, and making the trip to see friends or relatives now proved both long and expensive. So too was the trip into work, as the promised employment opportunities within the estates failed to materialise for the majority of people, with only a lucky few finding employment within their area. The widespread lack of amenities throughout the schemes meant that what used to be a quick walk to the shops or doctor’s surgery turned into a significant, time-consuming journey. The quantity of shops, although gradually increasing over the years, never reflected the size of the populations they were meant to serve, and the absence of entertainment facilities provided more reasons for people to have to return to the city on a regular basis. However, the infrequent and relatively expensive bus services from each estate to the city centre failed to service their needs and those who made it into the city faced a race to be finished in time for the last bus back.
The lack of facilities often caused young people to turn to vandalism as a means of relieving boredom, a trend that continued for a long time. Anti-social behaviour flourished out of adolescent boredom, despite the intended control factor of housing Police Officers in “police houses” within the scheme. Police families were, quite simply, persecuted and hounded out of their homes. Moreover, gang warfare was endemic; the hooligan and sectarian gangs that flourished in the '30s and '40s in areas such as the Gorbals, Bridgeton, Calton, and Springburn found themselves relocated to new territories in Easterhouse and in the other schemes.
The estates themselves comprised many undifferentiated neighbourhoods of repetitive tenements (Craig, 2003: 43), thus creating a bleak, cold environment for those living there. While the new tenements were generally weatherproof, the poorly designed heating and ventilation systems caused massive condensation, which led to the dampness that affected so many council properties. Coupled to this was the policy of integrating good and bad tenants in the belief that the good would help the bad. However, the policy had almost the opposite effect, with the good invariably moving out due to anti-social neighbours and leaving the bad in schemes that suffered from unemployment, social deprivation and sub-standard housing (Craig, 2003: 49).
Although shops, schools and community centres gradually moved into the estates, the deterioration of the schemes continued, with a 1985 House Condition Survey conducted by the Glasgow City Council indicating that around 13% of the city’s municipal stock was below tolerable standard (BTS) (Maclennan and Gibb, 1988: 45). Defined in part II of the 1974 Housing (Scotland) Act, the tolerable standard was the statutory means used to determine whether or not a house was fit for occupation and took into consideration such issues as whether or not a house was structurally stable, free from damp and had adequate mains supplies and facilities (House Condition Survey, 1985: 2). Table 1 shows the BTS Glasgow District Council dwellings, with only the Mid Eastern area of the city containing a higher BTS percentage than Easterhouse, and with Castlemilk and Pollok at the higher end of the scale compared to other areas of the city. Similar results can be seen in Table 2, which shows the number of dwellings designated BTS status due to dampness. Once again, the figures show that by 1985, Easterhouse and Pollok contained some of the worst housing in the city.
Table 1: Glasgow District Council Occupied BTS Dwellings (House Condition Survey, 1985: 32)
Table 2: Glasgow District Council Occupied BTS Damp Dwellings (House Condition Survey, 1985: 32)
While the 1985 House Condition Survey highlighted some of the problems plaguing the peripheral estates, it was not until 1986 and the publication of Prof. Robert Grieve’s report The Inquiry into Housing in Glasgow that explanations were officially offered as to how such a high level of deterioration could occur in the overspill estates. This citywide investigation of the municipal accommodation stock highlighted the problems found throughout the city, and acknowledged that the single most serious set of housing problems facing Glasgow was located in the peripheral schemes (Inquiry into Housing, 1986: 20). Judging that the problems were rooted in the post-war origins of the estates, the Report found that the building density adopted by Glasgow Council was much larger than the Clyde Valley Plan recommendation for peripheral densities, and was achieved by building flatted dwellings, usually four storeys high. Moreover, a paradox appeared between the estates and the highly successful new town of East Kilbride, situated only two miles from the disastrous estate of Castlemilk (Inquiry into Housing, 1986: 18). Although similar in size and built roughly at the same time, they were developed by two different authorities with contrasting views on strategic planning, and different approaches to housing types, management and the provision of services other than housing (Inquiry into Housing, 1986: 18). Consequently, the appeal of the new towns to families and small businesses was greater than that of the peripheral estates, with the towns being able to offer extensive and ready-made amenities and employment opportunities to those residing in the comfortable homes within their borders.
While the origins of the estates could be seen as the catalyst for the problems experienced, the situation was, in the eyes of the report, made worse by a combination of factors over the years, namely:
1. Seriously deficient housing management.
2. Poor building construction and a faulty building system.
3. Rent levels that were too low to meet maintenance costs and the costs of good management.
4. An allocation system encouraging the segregation of social and economic groups. (Inquiry into Housing, 1986: 18-19)
Moreover, if overcrowding constituted more than one person per habitable room, then the levels found in Easterhouse were seven times higher than the British national average (Inquiry into Housing, 1986: 21). While this qualification of overcrowding was much less than the one used in 1921 by the Royal Commission on Housing in Scotland, the presence of overcrowded conditions in areas designated as solutions to inner-city congestion indicated that instead of finding an adequate solution, the city authorities had simply succeeded in transferring the problem elsewhere within its boundaries.
With around half of the most deprived areas in Glasgow located in the peripheral estates, male unemployment reached 40% in some areas, as the estates contained concentrations of socially and economically disadvantaged groups, many of whom had been relocated from the inner city. With 75% of households without a car, and five times the national rate of infant mortality in the first year of life, the study remarked that deprivation had 'moved outwards to the outer estates' (CES Ltd, 1985: i). Further depth can be added to this view by noting that, in 1971, a high proportion of deprived areas were in parts of the old inner city such as Maryhill and the East End. However by 1981, having undergone redevelopment these areas were showing a relative improvement while the deprived areas were now located primarily in the peripheral estates (CES Ltd, 1985: 14), as Map 2 shows.
Glasgow Corporation lacked the resources, powers and planning skills of the New Town Development Corporations and as a result compromised on housing standards, dwelling design and in the provision of civic amenities and facilities (Inquiry into Housing, 1986: 27). By measuring success simply on the number of houses completed, little thought was given to management issues (Inquiry into Housing, 1986: 27), and the ensuing rapid deterioration of stock meant that Glasgow was left facing the huge costs of modernising and refurbishing relatively new accommodation. With this in mind, the Inquiry into Housing in Glasgow made the following recommendations that it deemed essential for achieving housing and environmental improvements, and a high standard of housing management:
1. The Council should be prepared to transfer up to 50% of the peripheral stock to locally based housing associations for full modernisation, to create the fundamental change in conditions and management required.
2. Full community involvement in the development of improvement and management proposals for each scheme, thus ensuring a high level of tenant commitment to the future of the areas.
3. Improvements made by housing associations should improve home ownership through council house sales.
4. An additional expenditure of £85million on non-housing projects, due to vitality of economic, social and industrial progress to the successful renewal of the estates. (Inquiry into Housing, 1986: 38-39).
With a £255 million capital package over a five-year period recommended to ensure completion of the first stages of comprehensive renewal (Inquiry into Housing, 1986: 39), Glasgow City Council was by 1986 faced with the huge task of correcting past mistakes. While the residents of the new towns enjoyed the full benefits of life outside the city, many of those relocated to the peripheral estates found themselves living in conditions not dissimilar to those they had been trying to escape. As one female parent commented 'they are making ghettos…' (CES Ltd, 1985: A16). This simple statement is enough to highlight that despite the planners having had the best intentions when designing the schemes, the reality of life there was alarmingly different to that originally imagined. Instead of becoming an ideal solution to the problem of inner-city overcrowding, the peripheral schemes in many ways repeated the social problems suffered in the earlier part of the twentieth century, but simply in a different location. An attempted solution had in fact turned in to an extension of the initial problems.
Map 2: Social Deprivation in Glasgow, 1981 (Inquiry into Housing, 1986: 14)
Early attempts by Glasgow Corporation to control overcrowding and improve living conditions failed to address the key causes of the squalid conditions and with the problems carried over into the twentieth century, it was universally agreed that Glasgow was gripped by a housing crisis of epic proportions. With the adoption of the overspill policy recommended by the CVRPAC in 1946, the Glasgow Corporation launched a pioneering assault on the massive overcrowding in the city, aware that the eyes of other local governments in Britain were fixed upon them. What followed was the large-scale transferral of residents from the inner city slums to new towns and giant housing estates on the periphery.
The four main peripheral estates were envisaged as large areas away from the crowded slums of the city centre in which the thousands of families that had been displaced during the process of urban regeneration could be re-homed. Containing wide, open spaces, employment opportunities, and various social amenities, the peripheral estates were to offer clean, modern and spacious accommodation for the first time in the majority of people’s lives. With the inner-city slum dwellers moved to more sanitary environments on the periphery, Glasgow Corporation would therefore be able to lower the population residing in the city centre, and at the same time, regenerate the slum areas to allow for new developments at much lower densities.
The adopted overspill policy was beset with problems from the outset. The delay in deciding between the local-authority-endorsed Bruce Plan and the national-government-sponsored Clyde Valley Regional Plan resulted in the decay and dissolution of thousands more Victorian slum tenements. Consequently, the resultant urgency in house building called for a ‘houses only’ policy (Gibb, 1989: 161), where success was calculated on the number of houses built. With the provision of amenities cast aside until the necessary houses were built, new tenants found themselves placed in housing estates the equivalent size of many towns in Scotland, but with none of the facilities to match. The resurgence of social problems and the high demand for housing transfers by the late 1970s illustrated that the provision of houses was not sufficient enough to create a humane environment (Devine, 1999: 284).
Walking around the peripheral estates today, one can see much redevelopment occurring. Rows of more modern accommodation sit side by side with empty, boarded-up buildings and in-progress demolitions. In places, entire streets lie unoccupied due to tenants having requested transfers elsewhere and the uniformity of the original housing designs is painfully apparent. It was this uniformity that caused problems such as dampness to be so widespread. With the majority of houses designed in the same manner and looked after by a city that never implemented a planned housing maintenance system (Maclennan and Gibb, 1988: 44), the accommodation stock began to experience problems very early on. The extent of this was such that by the 1980s, private building and privatisation of existing stock was being suggested and promoted by the Grieve Report as a way to achieve housing and environmental improvements. Images 8-10 show that this is work still ongoing today with many original houses lying empty awaiting action, others receiving extensive modifications and a significant amount that have been replaced completely with new housing.
The handover of much of the accommodation into the private sector illustrates clearly how housing management has come full circle in Scotland. In order to cure the slum problem the Glasgow Corporation bought many of the old tenements from private landlords, but as the new Corporation housing rapidly deteriorated, a significant amount ended up back in private hands in as little as thirty years.
Image 8: Original Corporation housing, now derelict in Lochend Road, Easterhouse, September 2006 (Paice, 2006)
Image 9: Demolition work on Inverlochy Street, Garthamlock, September 2006 (Paice, 2006)
Image 10: Regeneration on Cloan Street, Drumchapel, September 2006 (Paice, 2006)
For the Glasgow Corporation, the aim of reducing the population and regenerating the accommodation in the city centre was achieved by adopting the overspill policy. Today, the population of Glasgow of approximately 600,000 has declined significantly from its peak at 1.1 million in 1951 (Scottish Executive Publications, 2003). Yet for many of those moved to the peripheral estates the situation did not improve radically. While it is undoubtedly true that accommodation in the peripheral schemes was far better and more sanitary than slum dwellings, the social problems that existed in the slums seemed to follow the tenants out to the new estates. As the gloss rapidly wore off, unemployment, gang violence and poverty once again emerged so that for many people, the only thing that had changed in their lives was their location. While it would be untrue to suggest that everyone was unhappy with their new surroundings, Meg Henderson opined that the council housing estates were no more than ghettos to replace ghettos (Henderson, 1994: 89). She adds that the Glasgow experience undoubtedly helped other areas of the United Kingdom not to make the same mistakes on such a large scale (Henderson, 1994: 90).
The attempted overspill solution to Glasgow’s problems was meant to remove people from squalid living conditions and place them in spacious, fully equipped new townships. Due to well-meaning but misguided thinking, however, the needs of the people were not fully considered until it was too late, and a new form of squalor emerged, with the results still visible today. Indeed, as other cities learned from Glasgow’s mistakes, the efforts to improve housing conditions in Glasgow will continue for some time yet, as the intended solution to the city’s housing crisis created an entirely new crisis for the local authority to deal with.
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS, MAPS AND TABLES
Image 1: Slum Housing at Charlotte Lane, Central Area of Glasgow, January 1947 (The Mitchell Library online image catalogue: a, Record number C3018, http://www.mitchelllibrary.org/virtualmitchell/index.php?a=wordsearch&s=item&key=WczoxMjoic2x1bSBob3VzaW5nIjs=&pg=119, accessed 3 March 2008)
Image 2: Slum housing at Lawmoor Street, Hutchesontown, June 1947 (The Mitchell Library online image catalogue: b, Record number C3201, http://www.mitchelllibrary.org/virtualmitchell/index.php?a=wordsearch&s=item&key=WczoxMjoic2x1bSBob3VzaW5nIjs=&pg=164, accessed 3 March 2008)
Image 3: Slum Housing at Crown Street, The Gorbals, December 1946 (The Mitchell Library online image catalogue: c, Record number C3015, http://www.mitchelllibrary.org/virtualmitchell/index.php?a=wordsearch&s=item&key=WczoxMjoic2x1bSBob3VzaW5nIjs=&pg=131, accessed 3 March 2008)
Image 4: Corporation Housing at Pollok, 1950 (The Mitchell Library online image catalogue: d, Record number C3035, http://www.mitchelllibrary.org/virtualmitchell/index.php?a=wordsearch&s=item&key=WczoxOToiY29ycG9yYXRpb24gaG91c2luZyI7&pg=96, accessed 3 March 2008)
Image 5: Corporation Housing at Drumchapel, January 1954 (The Mitchell Library online image catalogue: e, Record number C3048, http://www.mitchelllibrary.org/virtualmitchell/index.php?a=wordsearch&s=item&key=WczoxOToiY29ycG9yYXRpb24gaG91c2luZyI7&pg=37, accessed 3 March 2008)
Image 6: Corporation Housing at Birgidale Road, Castlemilk, 1958 (Glasgow City Archives Department of Architectural and Civic Design: a, Ref: AP9/7/28/93)
Image 7: Corporation Housing at Duntarvie Quadrant, Easterhouse, 1959 (Glasgow City Archives Department of Architectural and Civic Design: b, Ref: A/32/F/46)
Image 8: Original Corporation housing, now derelict in Lochend Road, Easterhouse, September 2006 (Paice, 2006 50).
Image 9: Demolition work on Inverlochy Street, Garthamlock, September 2006 (Paice, 2006 50)
Image 10: Regeneration on Cloan Street, Drumchapel, September 2006 (Paice, 2006 51)
Map 1: The Location of Glasgow's Four Peripheral Estates (CES Ltd, 1985: 2)
Map 2: Social Deprivation in Glasgow, 1981 (Inquiry into Housing, 1986: 14)
Table 1: Glasgow District Council Occupied BTS Dwellings (House Condition Survey, 1985: 32)
Table 2: Glasgow District Council Occupied BTS Damp Dwellings (House Condition Survey, 1985: 32)
Brennan, T. (1959), Reshaping a City, Glasgow: University of Glasgow
CES Paper 24 (1985), Outer Estates in Britain: Easterhouse Case Study, London: Centre for Environmental Studies
Chadwick, E. (1842), Report on the Sanitary Condition of the Labouring Population of Great Britain, London: H.M.S.O.
Craig, A. (2003), The Story of Drumchapel, Glasgow: Allan Craig
Damer, S. (1989), From Moorepark to ‘Wine Alley’, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press
Devine, T.M. (1999), The Scottish Nation 1700-2000, London: Penguin
Dunleavy, P. (1981),The Politics of Mass Housing in Britain, 1945-1975: A Study of Corporate Power and Professional Influence in the Welfare State, Oxford: Clarendon Press
Gauldie, E. (1974), Cruel Habitations, London: Allen and Unwin
Gibb, A. (1989), ‘Policy and Politics in Scottish Housing since 1945’ in Rodger, R. (ed.), Scottish Housing in the Twentieth Century, Leicester: Leicester University Press, pp. 155-83
Glasgow Housing Tenants Survey (2000), Glasgow: Glasgow City Council
Henderson, M. (1994), Finding Peggy, London: Corgi
House Condition Survey (1985), Vol.1: Report of the Survey, Glasgow: City of Glasgow
Inquiry into Housing in Glasgow (1986), Glasgow: Glasgow District Council
Keating, M. (1988), The City That Refused to Die, Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Press
Maclennan, D. and A. Gibb (1988), Glasgow: No Mean City to Miles Better, Centre for Housing Research Discussion Paper No. 18, Glasgow: University of Glasgow
O'Hara, G. (2006), From Dreams to Disillusionment: Economic and Social Planning in 1960s Britain, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan
Pacione, M. (1995), Glasgow: The Socio-Spatial Development of the City, Chichester: Wiley
Paice, L. (2006), 'The Glasgow Slum Clearance Programme: From One Nightmare to Another?' unpublished BA dissertation, Oxford Brookes University
Reoch, E. (1976), Farewell to the Single-End, Glasgow: City of Glasgow District Council
‘Review of Scotland’s Cities - The Analysis’ (2003), Scottish Executive Publications, January 2003, http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2003/01/15950/15136, accessed 17 February 2006
Worsdall, F. (1979), The Tenement: A Way of Life, Edinburgh: W. and R. Chambers
To cite this paper please use the following details: Paice, L. (2008), ‘Overspill Policy and the Glasgow Slum Clearance Project in the Twentieth Century: From One Nightmare to Another?', Reinvention: a Journal of Undergraduate Research, Volume 1, Issue 1, http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/go/reinventionjournal/volume1issue1/paice Date accessed [insert date].
© Reinvention: a Journal of Undergraduate Research (2008). Full copyright remains with the author.
The Reception of Literature in France during the Revolution: An Analysis of Reviews of Women Writers in the Mercure de France, 1791-1795
by Jonathan Durham, Department of French Studies, University of Warwick 
This paper is based on part of a pan-European research project carried out between 2004 and 2007, the aim of which was to create an index of female authors. The full results may be found in the database WomenWriters, available at www.databasewomenwriters.nl. One section of this project involved listing and analysing all works, both fiction and theatre, which were reviewed during the period 1791 to 1795 in the Mercure de France, the government-funded state journal which was produced during the Ancien Régime. Given the generally accepted view that the French Revolution marked a watershed in literary production, establishing what was being published and reviewed at that time is crucial for our understanding of the changing socio-political literary climate.
The eighteenth century was the period of Enlightenment, and many women were active in writing at this time. It was expected, therefore, that a significant number of works written by women would be reviewed in the Mercure. However, this was not the case and so the project was expanded to include an analysis of the development of the Mercure during the Revolutionary years, the theatre of the Revolution, and the status of female authors in French Revolutionary society. This analysis forms the basis of the first part of this article; the second part examines the reviews of the only two female-authored publications to appear in the Mercure during the period 1791-1795, Elizabeth Inchbald’s Simple Histoire [Simple Story] and Charlotte Smith’s Célestine, ou la victime des Préjugés [Celestina].
KEYWORDS: Women writers, Charlotte Smith, Elizabeth Inchbald, revolutionary theatre, Le Mercure de France, French revolutionary society.
INTRODUCTION: FORMULATING A HYPOTHESIS
Before looking at any issue of the Mercure, a researcher might hypothesise that there would be few (but some) women writers reviewed in that publication, some of whom would be French, given the number of female writers in the literary canon. At this time, women participated actively in the Revolution, for example Olympe de Gouges, who published her Déclarations des droits de la femme et de la citoyenne in 1791, as a suite and accompaniment to the established Déclarations des droits de l’homme et du citoyen. If women were historically active, it might therefore be a logical assumption that women would be active in literary production, since literature was a powerful thrust for the French Revolution. It might also be logical, therefore, that the state journal would be reviewing these women, given that the editorship was supportive of the Enlightenment project. Theatre in particular is a driving force of revolution (for example, the rise of the drame as political manifestation), and one would expect it to enjoy a dramatic increase in popularity and therefore reception, as this was undoubtedly the genre for politics.
PRELUDE TO REVOLUTION: THE LITERARY CLIMATE OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY
Despite the presence of women as heads of state across Europe during the eighteenth century, the literary canon for femmes savantes and femmes d’esprit was limited during this era. However successful a literary work from a female writer, this would never be enough for her to make a living. Indeed, as English Showalter outlined, writing for women at this time was not a livelihood, but merely a form of self-expression, if not an obsession. (Showalter, 1988: 98) The majority of women who were able to participate in the world of high culture had to do so through the hosting of salons, the most famous of salonnières probably being Germaine de Staël. However, the majority of these women participating in cultural life – and this is certainly the case for Mme de Staël –were born into this world of privilege.
This was the Age of Enlightenment, an age of tolerance and freedom of expression, in its theories and philosophical discourse (certain historical events may point to the contrary, however, such as the affaire Calas (1761) and affaire du chevalier de la Barre (1764), two cases of injustice and intolerance through religious fanaticism). It was a pan-European intellectual movement of the eighteenth century, thought to cover much of the seventeenth century too. Enlightenment is best defined by Kant in his 1784 essay Beantwortung der Frage: Was ist Aufklärung? [In answer to the question: What is Enlightenment?]: 
Aufklärung ist der Ausgang des Menschen aus seiner selbstverschuldeten Unmündigkeit. Unmündigkeit ist das Unvermögen, sich seines Verstandes ohne Leitung eines anderen zu bedienen (p. 481).
[Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-incurred immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one’s reason without guidance from another].
Enlightenment involves three stages: first comes self-emancipation, where a categorical imperative of thinking is required, to overcome the laziness which leads to the inability to use one’s reason. Second is political and social emancipation: society’s impositions can create a state of immaturity, therefore social and intellectual inhibitions must be eliminated and political freedom must be increased, so one can achieve Enlightenment through the use of one’s reason. Third is cultural emancipation, which stipulates that the emergence from immaturity is a historically progressive process, which is achieved on the personal level (Sapere Aude! [‘Have courage to use your own understanding!’], is the motto for Enlightenment, according to Kant), and on the societal level through education and culture. As long as the subject performs his duties to the state in the private sphere, he may engage in critical discourse in the public sphere. According to Kant, freedom to publish and debate publicly would gradually enable people to develop the tendency to free thought. Once developed, this affects the character of a people, who, gradually, become more capable of free action, which would eventually influence government. Intellectual freedom must, therefore, precede and prepare the way for greater political and civil freedom, or in other words, Enlightenment.
Enlightenment, however, is not just about reason. The reason and rationality are inextricably linked with la sensibilité; in other words, as discussed by Mortier (1990), Enlightenment involves hearts and minds: le cœur et la raison. Sensibilité is a doctrine, according to which our knowledge comes from our feelings. In Germany, this notion of sensibility is best portrayed through the epistolary novel par excellence, Goethe’s Die Leiden des jungen Werthers [The sorrows of Young Werther] (1774). This novel gave rise to the phenomenon known as the ‘Werther-Fieber’: that is to the say the copy-cat suicide of the novel’s protagonist throughout Europe. In England, the notion is best conveyed through the title of Jane Austen’s novel Sense and Sensibility (1811). And in France, Rousseau’s La Nouvelle Héloïse (1761) and Bernadin de Saint-Pierre’s Paul et Virginie (1787) are the best examples of the roman du sentiment.
Regardless of any privileges or difficulties for women wishing to write in this Age of Enlightenment, there were many women who were writing, albeit from privileged backgrounds. As stated above, most of these women were writing not to make a living; rather, this was their need for self-reflection and expression. Many of these privileged women writing in the eighteenth century wrote letters, in the tradition of Mme de Sévigné in the seventeenth century. Only when we get into the nineteenth century do we see women begin to make a living from their writing. There are several exceptions, such as Madame de Riccoboni, who was forced to make a living off her writing and theatre in the eighteenth century. However, one such female writer of the nineteenth century is George Sand (née Aurore Dupin), who fled her unhappy marriage to live an artist’s life in Paris, albeit under a man’s name. In spite of the pseudonym and its quick discovery, Sand’s
LE MERCURE DE FRANCE: THE STATE JOURNAL OF THE ANCIEN REGIME AND ITS DEVELOPMENT THROUGHOUT FOUR YEARS OF REVOLUTION
Founded by Jean Donneau de Visé, the Mercure was first published in 1672, and until 1724 appeared under the title (Nouveau) Mercure gallant, after which the title was changed to its current form. It is a literary-philosophic journal, later taking on a more political standpoint towards the events of the Revolution (1778), whereas it used to be ‘merely a condensed Gazette de France’ (Censer, 1994: 145). A significant step in the development of journalism, the name refers to the classical god Mercury, the messenger of the gods and the god of commerce. The Mercure became the uncontested arbiter of literary taste and the paper of record for news about the court and court society for subscribers in the provinces. Though the editorship was known to be in support of the Enlightenment project, the publication displayed a tone of reticence and restrain, and an apparent muted support. By ignoring the Church, they limited support for Enlightenment, in that they were promoting a secular view of the world. Marmontel briefly edited the journal between 1758 and 1760, before moving onto the similar Journal des Dames. At this time readership had grown from 756 to 1778 between the years 1756 and 1764 (Censer, 1994: 145). Approaching Revolution, management of the periodical fell into the hands of Charles-Joseph Panckoucke. In 1756, of the total 756 known subscribers to the journal, just over 50% of these were nobles and government functionaries; 15% were women. Between 1780 and 1788, readership increased approximately 230%, largely due to the addition of the political section and supplements. During the revolutionary era, the title was changed briefly to Le Mercure français, with little effect on the content of the journal. Napoleon ceased its publication in 1811, but the review was resurrected in 1815, and last published, under its present format, in 1825 (until resurrected at the end of the nineteenth century, by Alfred Vallette and his fellow salonniers).
Literary criticism in this age was still about the respect of established rules. After the 1750s, it turned to an analysis of the functions of literature and the comparative merits of each genre (Dion, 2006: 135). The evolution of the press in French Revolutionary society is also discussed in Darnton and Roche (1989).
It is true to say that many women were writing during the Revolution (both in France and abroad), despite their inability to make a living out of it, and despite their marginalised position in the literary canon and world of culture. Many were taking to the genres in which they were under-represented. With such genres as the roman noir, the sentimental novel (notably Mme de Staël), elegies and romance, women were merely following the established tradition, as discussed in Cook (1982). However, with their political pamphlets and theatrical pieces, they were innovating, to the extent that Mme de Gouges produced a political play. It is also true to say that theatre was a very active genre at this time. The novelist/ playwright Jean Giraudoux (1931) explains the rise of the theatre in Revolutionary France:
Le spectacle est la seule forme d’éducation morale ou artistique d’une nation. Il est le seul cours du soir valable pour adultes et vieillards, le seul moyen par lequel le public, le plus humble et le plus lettré, peut être mis en contact avec les plus hauts conflits (p. 1321).
[The theatre is the only form of moral or artistic education for a nation. It is the only worthwhile night school for adults, the only means by which the public, the most unassuming and the most educated, can be put in touch with conflicts of the highest scale].
These female authors were being read in their native countries and in translation abroad, for example Elizabeth Inchbald’s Simple Story (Simple Histoire in its French translation), which was reviewed in the Mercure on 28 January 1792, shortly after its publication. Despite this range of female writers, the state journal for France during the Revolutionary period reviewed virtually none of these authors. The only female authors reviewed in the Mercure during the period 1791 to 1795 were:
- Elizabeth Inchbald – Simple Histoire [Simple Story], 28 January 1792;
- Charlotte Smith – Célestine, ou la Victime des Préjugés [Celestina], 13 July 1795.
It is interesting to note that both these authors are English women, and were reviewed in translation. While the project may seem disappointing in terms of the volume of results for the WomenWriters database, it did raise some interesting points about the development of the Mercure during the period 1791-1795, and the literary climate of the French Revolution – specifically it raised the question of why the state journal of the Revolution was not reviewing, and by implication supporting, the female talents of the day. Although these findings are perhaps surprising, they do allow us to define a small corpus which we may examine in detail, and for this reason the analysis of these two reviews will form the basis of this article.
The majority of literary work which was reviewed by the Mercure during the Revolution, apart from theatre, was non-fiction. This ranged from universally topical issues such as the dangers of smoking, to works which were indicative of their historical context, such as debates on education, divorce and associated morality, and the glorification of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who tied into the debate on education, due to the nature of his works and theories.
The main literary genre and medium during the Revolutionary years was the theatre. Nearly 150 plays were reviewed by the Mercure during the period 1791-1795, and it is very interesting to see when these plays were reviewed, ranging from 52 in 1791, to one in 1795. This is indicative of the historical context, as one would expect that the production and reviewing of literature would decline sharply during the years of the Terror (for more on the historical context, see Andress (2006)).
The total number of works of fiction (that is to say novels mainly, but this also includes short stories and poetry) reviewed during the period 1791-1795 was 46, of which two were by female authors.
The total numbers for each year were as follows:
As for theatre, there were no women playwrights reviewed during the period. The total number of plays reviewed during the period 1791-1795 was 141, which is broken down on the following graph:
Comparing fiction and theatre reviews, the chart looks like this:
Theatre, therefore, was by far the most popular genre to review.
In spite of the large number of women writing during the Revolutionary years, and of their innovations in doing so, none of these women were reviewed by the state journal during the period 1791 to 1795. In fact, there were only two women reviewed out of a total of 187 fictional reviews, including theatre. This makes up approximately 1% of reviews during these five years. The two female authors that compose this 1% were foreign: namely, Elizabeth Inchbald (1753-1821) and Charlotte Smith (1749-1806).
Mrs Inchbald was born in 1753 into a family of middle-class Catholics in Suffolk, England, and was later to become one of the most famous female writers of her time. She wrote not only novels, but was known as a critic and playwright too. Published in 1791, seven years after the theatrical work Mogul Tale; or, The Descent of the Balloon (1784) which was to mark the beginning of her 27-year career, A Simple Story was her first novel. This was an era that stipulated that all literature have a suitable moral lesson, and Mrs Inchbald provided one: women should have a proper education, an argument in contrast to that of Rousseau, who believed that women should be trained simply to please men. It is therefore not difficult to see why this text was chosen by the editorship of the Mercure. Her dramatic experience enabled her to hit upon strong situations while her purely literary gift enabled her to clothe them in good form. But the criticism aimed at her – that prevalent ideas on education and social convention spoil the work of a real artist – is true, except that a real artist would not have allowed the spoiling. Mrs Inchbald was criticised for having extra-literary purpose. Her ideas on education and social convention spoil the work, and a ‘real artist’ would not have allowed this to happen (Ward, 1907: 21). Nevertheless, this overt criticism is not as apparent among the French, and in particular in the review of 28 January 1792 in the Mercure. Despite not very much happening in the novel (writes M. G…, the reviewer), it is praised for its vraisemblance, its literary merit, and its sensibilité, or ‘connaissances du cœur’ ['knowledge of the heart']. As with all eighteenth-century reviews of any decent length, the reader is treated to a lengthy summary of the plot, which in this case is approximately 78% of the entire article. The review contains praise for the translator, and starts by listing Inchbald's success in the theatres of London. ‘Ce succès nous parait mérité […] elle est d'une singularité piquante’ [To us, this success is deserved […] this is a one-off].
Also born into a middle-class family and raised in southern England, Charlotte Smith was an English Romantic poet and novelist whose works have been credited with influencing Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. Although Mrs Smith was clearly an important writer of the time, she is perhaps not as well-known as she ought to be. The same applies to Mrs Inchbald. Nevertheless, there is a renewed interest in Smith scholarship in English faculties as critical editions of her works are beginning to be published. This is similar to the growing interest in modern day times in Mme de Graffigny, particularly by feminist critics.
Around the time of the Revolution in France, Mrs Smith began to write fiction to earn a living. Emmeline appeared in 1788, Ethelinde in 1789, then followed Celestina (1791), Desmond (1792) and The Old Manor House (1793), her most famous work. She continued to publish novels up to six years before her death at the age of 57, and as can be seen here, she published novels at a very fast rate. As stated above, the social conditions into which Mrs Smith was born would have helped her a great deal in this. It was Mrs Smith’s Celestina that made it into the review section of the Mercure; however. Celestina appeared as Mme de Rome’s 1795 translation Célestine, ou la Victime des Prejugés. The review was published in the 13 July 1795 edition of the Mercure, and was the longest literary review seen in the journal for quite some time. Again, the translator and her translation, although she was to remain anonymous in this article, were praised, particularly for her ‘connaissances anglaises’ [English knowledge]. Once again, and as can be expected from literary reviews of the eighteenth century, the review was mainly a plot summary (63%), and the text was very well received by the French, largely due to its moral standards and its vraisemblance. The review finishes thus:
Tel est le canevas de ce Roman, dont les détails, les incidents, les épisodes excitent le plus vif intérêt.
[Such is the tapestry work of this novel, among which the details, the incidents, and the episodes arouse the most thrilling interest.]
INCHBALD V SMITH: COMPARING THE REVIEW OF 1792 WITH THAT OF 1795
Both reviews deal with female English writers in translation towards the end of the eighteenth century, and as such these reviews are highly similar.
One finds all one would expect to find in an eighteenth century literary review. The reviews are largely plot summary – or analysis, as the reviewer likes to think of it – Inchbald 78% v Smith 63%. While the proportion, and by implication the length in terms of the rest of the article, of the plot summary / analysis has decreased over the three years, the overall length of the article has not. Smith’s review was found to be much more rambling than that of Inchbald. Smith’s reviewer spends two pages discussing the English as a nationality, the success of their literature due to their novels having respect for ‘des mœurs’ and flagging up the role of honour, whilst sandwiched in the middle of this is a sentence or two admitting the failure of French literature to do this, before the Revolution at least. French novels were unable to provoke any interest or to display any character. The review starts by claiming that a nation’s morals are embedded in its literature, and goes on to say that the morals of the English have a character ‘très remarquable’, which, one must assume, can only be taken as a compliment.
Inchbald’s review does not shy away from going into the reviewer’s prejudice on the nation whose novel he is reviewing. After a glowing review for Simple Story, the author ends with a small comment about his distaste for a certain character (the reviewers of the Mercure did not hold back their recommendations for any improvements for a text, however small). In this case, the character is simply dismissed as, ‘Il nous semble que ce personage ne pouvait se trouver que dans un Roman Anglais’, [It seems to us that this character could appear only in an English novel], for his incivility and lack of sensibilité. On the subject of sensibilité, this is a major criterion for judging a text, and has been used to the author’s advantage here. The text contains many ‘connaissances du cœur’ and ‘l’art de produire de grands mouvements par de faibles ressorts, de porter le trouble dans l’âme par un mot, un geste, un regard, un silence’ [The art of producing grand effects by simple means, to touch the soul by a single word, a gesture, a look, a moment of silence]. Similarly, Simple Story, described as a ‘tour de force’, is praised for its characterisation. As if a reviewer could not do the text justice, he feels the need for a page-length quote to introduce the protagonist Dorriforth.
Although this is also the case for Celestina, it is much less so. Vraisemblance and characterisation are merged into a single sentence, whereas once before these would have required their own paragraphs. All in all, there is little said in terms of analysis of the text in the case of Charlotte Smith.
In both cases the reviewer points out the author’s success with the text in hand and with previous texts. This comes immediately with Inchbald, but with Smith, the reviewer only gets round to the topic of the author and her text after two pages’ digression about morals and the English. Success is measured in both cases by the number of re-editions of the text, and the time phase for this to date. Praise is given in both cases for the translator – although M. Deschamps does receive more praise and credit as a translator than does the unnamed female translator of Charlotte Smith – the former is credited with having produced a rendition that could easily be the original.
FRENCH THEATRE DURING THE REVOLUTION
We have noted above the pedagogical powers of the theatre during the Revolution by the example of Giraudoux. Evidence for this can be found in the database created as part of this project. Theatrical reviews compare to fictional reviews (novels) 141 to 46 – a difference of approximately 3:1.
The most common genres found to be reviewed were the following:
These results displayed on the graph go against expectations slightly. Tragedy is expected to be highly popular, as is opera/ comic opera. However, it would be expected that the drames were more popular and the comedies less so, to a certain extent that they should swap places on the chart.
The reason for this is that the drame is less a literary work, and more a political manifestation, of which there was a great proliferation during these Revolutionary years. As regards comedies, nobody puts it better than Didier: ‘L’heure n’est pas au rire’ [There’s not a lot to laugh about at the moment]. Although this period is certainly not the genre’s high time, comedy does enjoy a significant popularity during the Revolutionary years, despite Didier’s statement. This is in keeping with the research results of a team of Americans headed by Emmet Kennedy (Kennedy et al., 1996).
Nevertheless, it must be borne in mind that these are only works reviewed by the state journal, and do not reflect literary production. This raises an interesting question as to what type and for what reasons the Mercure reviews a literary work, as it does with the fiction with regard to women writers. There were many French women writing, yet none of them were reviewed. There were French women writing theatre, a lot of which was received positively, yet none of the plays were written by women were reviewed. To an extent, the Mercure is searching for political plays, so why not include in the literary review that by Mme de Gouges? Themes of equality and justice before the law, anti-clericalism, the fight against prejudice, the liberty of the individual, all are to be found in the Parisian theatres of these years.
What marks Revolutionary theatre out from the rest of theatre in French literature, or more precisely all theatre produced hitherto, is the style and vocabulary of the spectacles. Le Mariage de Figaro is a good example of this. Theatre is brought down with regards to its style, so that it includes all the ‘plebs’ that would once have been banished from theatres around Paris. They were even introduced on stage, and throughout Beaumarchais’s Trilogie Espagnole, they succeed in outwitting the count. It is interesting to compare this with French theatre of the preceding century, most notably in Racine’s Phèdre. The reason for the degradation in the theatrical public is due to the Revolution’s considering theatre as a tool for public education, as outlined above. If it is to be part of ‘l’instruction publique’, then this needs to include the Third Estate as well. At around 1792-94 one no longer reverences the previously-established social conventions, such as title and class. One is simply a citizen (citoyen(ne)) and the so-called language of the Republic is used in discourse between all. Tutoiement is more common on the stage. For more on French Revolutionary theatre, see Carlson (1966).
DRAWING CONCLUSIONS: THE RECEPTION OF LITERATURE DURING THE REVOLUTION
An analysis of the reviews of the state journal during the period of the French Revolution, more specifically, the Terror and its immediate prologue and epilogue, can provide the (literary) historian with an invaluable first-hand insight into the events of the Revolution, and perhaps in particular, the vie quotidienne of the Revolution.
A historical or political approach to the Mercure between 1791 and 1795, involving an analysis of the weekly events and how they are reported by the state journal, would certainly provide a good insight into the events of the Revolution using the Mercure as a viable primary source (especially given the newly added politics and current affairs section). However, this paper has taken a literary approach, which involves looking at the literature of the day, and doing so one gains not only insight into the literary climate of the Revolution, which is important in itself, but also the events of the Terror, the daily life, what was happening in terms of development of thought, what was being read/ played/ reviewed at a certain point. This can be done through the recording of:
- fictional works;
- theatrical works;
This project started with the aim of such an analysis of the first two, while keeping an eye on the third. An analysis of the reviews and a look at the primary texts themselves were what this project has concentrated on, with reference to the reception of female writers during the Revolution (and by implication, the position of women in Revolutionary society), and the theatre of the Revolution.
Fiction and women’s writing
A recording of the 46 fictional reviews found that only two of these reviews concerned female authors, who were read in translation from English.
One would wonder why the government-funded journal of the day was not reviewing French female writers, when it is known that there are plenty of them, and that they are venturing into new territory where the men had not yet been, and creating their own innovations in these domains.
A close reading of the two English texts sheds some light onto this matter, for they both concern suitable moral lessons, which was required of all literature at this time. This leads back to Rousseau, who was the man of the moment in the non-fiction reviews across the five years of the journal, for he was involved in the debates on education and the place of women in society (see Emile, ou de l’éducation (1762)). Nevertheless, Mrs Inchbald goes against Rousseau, for the moral lesson in her novel is that women should have a proper education. This is therefore an input into the debate on education and the place of women in French society surrounding Rousseau. Moral standards and vraisemblance were also important factors in the positive nature of the review, and the reason for its being selected to be reviewed by the editorship of the Mercure.
French revolutionary theatre
A literary approach to the Revolution would claim that it is the theatre of all media and literature that is the most powerful in terms of a driving force for the Revolution, a point which may well be played down by scholars taking historical and/or political approaches. This is in agreement with the novelist Giraudoux, in that the theatre is the only form of moral or artistic education for a nation.
The rise of the drame as political manifestation and less as literary work is indicative of this point, as is the lowering of the tone on the stage. Compare, for example, Le Mariage de Figaro (1784) by Beaumarchais with Racine’s Phèdre (1677). The latter, forming part of the Classical tradition, provides a traditional intrigue involving high-ranking members of society, written in verse (the alexandrin), it is vraisemblable, and conforms admirably to the three unities and ‘les bienséances’ (an agreed concept of what is acceptable on the stage). Beaumarchais may well take a traditional subject of the comedy genre (the intrigue of Molière’s Les Fourberies de Scapin); however, the play marks, above all, a break with the bienséances, in that the servants (Figaro) succeed in outwitting the count (Almaviva). Beaumarchais’s oeuvre falls into the category of the drame, and it is generally speaking a political manifestation (it is another debate entirely as to whether he is a ‘révolutionnaire’). Once again, however, despite many female playwrights writing during the Revolution, in particular Mme de Gouges who wrote political theatre, none of these were reviewed by the editorship of the Mercure.
Finally, it must be borne in mind, and has been throughout the duration of the project, that these are only works reviewed by the state journal, and do not reflect literary production. This raises the interesting question as to what type of literature, and for what reasons the Mercure reviews a literary work, and particularly, why the editorship, known to be supporters of High Enlightenment, are effectively supporting secularism by ignoring the up-and-coming female writers of the day. This paper has reflected on why the editorship chose to review Elizabeth Inchbald in 1792 and Charlotte Smith in 1795, but the question remains: why did the journal not review and promote French literary talent among female authors?
I would like to thank the University of Warwick for its Undergraduate Research Scholarship Scheme, coordinated by Dr Rachel Maunder of the Centre for Academic and Professional Development, which provided the funding for this project over six weeks in July and August 2007. I would also like to thank my supervisor Dr Katherine Astbury of the Department of French for her support and guidance, which was invaluable both to me and the project.
M. G. (1792), ‘Simple Histoire’ in Le Mercure de France, 28 January 1792
Anonymous reviewer (1795), ‘Célestine, ou la Victime des Préjugés’ in Le Mercure de France, 13 July 1795
Andress, D. (2006), The Terror: Civil War in the French Revolution, London: Abacus
Bonnel, R. and C. Rubinger (1994), Femmes Savantes et Femmes d’Esprit: Women Intellectuals of the French Eighteenth Century,
Carlson, M. (1966), The Theatre of the French Revolution,
Censer, J. R. (1994), The French Press in the Age of Enlightenment, London: Routledge
Cook, M. C. (1982), ‘Politics in the fiction of the French Revolution, 1789-1794’, Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century, 201, Oxford, Voltaire Foundation, pp. 232-340
Darnton, R. and D. Roche (eds) (1989), Revolution in Print: The Press in France, 1775-1800, London: University of California Press
Didier, B. (1988), La Littérature de la Révolution française, Paris: Presses Universitaires de France
Dion, R. (2006), ‘Critique Littéraire’, in Aron, P., D. Saint-Jacques and A. Viala (eds), Le dictionnaire du littéraire, Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, pp. 134-35
Giraudoux, J. (1931), Le Discours de Chateauroux, feuilleton du Temps, 10 November 1931, quoted in Transactions of the Seventh international congress on the Enlightenment (Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century), SVEC 265, Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 1989
Hesse, C. (2001), The Other Enlightenment: How French Women Became Modern, Woodstock: Princeton University Press
Kant, I. (1784), ‘Beantwortung der Frage: Was ist Aufklärung?’, in Berlinische Monatsschrift. Dezember-Heft. pp. 481-494, in Christian Neuhäuser (ed.), (2007), http://www.uni-potsdam.de/u/philosophie/texte/kant/aufklaer.htm, accessed 25 July 2007
Kennedy, E., M-L. Netter, J. P. McGregor and M. V. Olsen (1996), Theatre, Opera, and Audiences in Revolutionary Paris: Analysis and Repertory, London: Greenwood Press
Martin, C. (2004), Espaces du féminine dans le roman français du dix-huitième siècle, SVEC 2004 (1), Oxford: Voltaire Foundation
Montfort, C. R. (ed.) (1994), Literate Women and the French Revolution of 1789, Birmingham,
Mortier, R. (1990), Le Cœur et la Raison, Oxford: Voltaire Foundation
Rodmell, G. E. (1990), French Drama of the Revolutionary Years, London: Routledge
Showalter, E. (1988), ‘Writing Off the Stage: Women Authors and Eighteenth-Century Theater’, Yale French Studies, 75, 98
Ward, A. W., A. R. Waller, W. P. Trent, J. Erskine, S. P. Sherman and C. Van Doren, The Cambridge History of English and American Literature,
To cite this paper please use the following details: Durham, J. (2008), ‘The Reception of Literature in France during the Revolution: An Analysis of Reviews of Women Writers in the Mercure de France, 1791-1795', Reinvention: a Journal of Undergraduate Research, Volume 1, Issue 1, http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/go/reinventionjournal/volume1issue1/durham Date accessed [insert date]. If you cite this article or use it in any teaching or other related activities please let us know by e-mailing us at Reinventionjournal at warwick dot ac dot uk.
© Reinvention: a Journal of Undergraduate Research (2008). Full copyright remains with the author.
Governmental Reform in Developing Countries: External Conditionality versus Peer Pressure. The Case of Kenya
by Carole Biau and Julie Biau, Department of Economics, University of Warwick 
This paper investigates whether World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) conditionality is an appropriate tool for improving governance in developing countries, and what balance of government ownership and donor conditions is needed to achieve meaningful politico-institutional reform. Taking Kenya as a case study, we contrast the effectiveness of current alternatives to the International Financial Institutions’ (IFIs) past Structural Adjustment Programmes. These include a conditionality-based initiative orchestrated by the IMF and World Bank – the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper and Economic Recovery Strategy for the creation of employment and welfare – and a regional, conditionality-free process, the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM). We thus attempt to assess whether Kenya’s government can move beyond conditionality and combat poor governance on its own initiative.
Our results suggest that governance-related conditionality is not optimal for promoting institutional reform. IFIs must re-conceptualise governance as a broader socio-political phenomenon, of which financial management and corruption are only one aspect. Reform must also be better internalised by recipient countries. Meanwhile, whilst the APRM solicits greater input from Kenyan stakeholders and better addresses country specificities, it cannot realistically function without binding mechanisms. We also find that government commitment is central to successful institutional reform. We advocate stimulating political will through a peer-consultation initiative inspired by the APRM, but where civil society, external institutions and actors continent-wide participate in defining binding conditions.
Following evidence of fraud in Kenya’s December 2007 presidential elections, this paper’s conclusions (written in September 2007) have been revised in an Afterword (written in January 2008).
KEYWORDS: Governance, Kenya, Corruption, World Bank, IMF, APRM, Conditionality
When the United Nations first used the term ‘governance’ some twenty years ago, many were reluctant to accept this coinage into the political jargon. Today, however, this has become the buzzword of the international community. Good governance is seen as ‘critical to the development process and to the effectiveness of development assistance’ (IDA 12, 1998, cited in Kapur and Webb, 2000: 3). If poor governance exacerbates the economic stagnation of many low-income countries, how can it best be improved? Is the conditionality advocated by International Financial Institutions (IFIs) an appropriate tool for promoting such reform? What balance of government ownership and donor conditions is needed to achieve meaningful change in developing countries?
This paper attempts to answer these hotly debated questions within the context of Kenya. Kenya is a particularly suitable country in which to analyse the effectiveness of governmental reform. Firstly, since its independence in 1963 it has been plagued by poor governance and endemic corruption, consistently ranking among the lowest ten percent of Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (NEPAD Kenya Secretariat, 2007: 166); the stakes of governmental reform are thus particularly high. Secondly, Kenya’s reputation as a ‘hub of stability’ in East Africa has allowed it to concentrate donor funds and reform efforts of which the country is traditionally tolerant. Kenya thus combines a clear necessity for governmental reform with high potential for the success of such initiatives. Whilst the conclusions drawn from the Kenyan case may not be generalised to all developing countries, they can shed light on the reform paths of other ‘high-potential’ African states in which clientelism poses a similar burden.
Our work develops the findings of five weeks’ research carried out in Nairobi in April 2007. We contrast two international projects geared towards governmental reform: a conditionality-based initiative under the auspices of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP, reformulated as Kenya’s Economic Recovery Strategy, ERS); and a regional, conditionality-free process, the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM, conducted under NEPAD, the New Partnership on African Development). Our research relies on interviews with actors directly involved and affected by these reforms, a list of whom can be found in appendix 2. Perception data gathered through interviews are a valid measure of a country’s institutional quality: in the case of corruption, it is the public’s perception of corruption – not the actual corruption level – that informs behaviour. As Kaufmann et al. (2007) explain, ‘when citizens view the courts and police as corrupt, they will not want to use their services, regardless of what the ‘objective’ reality is’ (Kaufmann et al., 2007: 319). Gathering relevant stakeholders’ views is a widespread approach to measuring progress on governance (Kaufmann et al., 2007: 318).
Yet one must note that interviewees often produced contradictory answers, and may not have been utterly sincere due to their positions in the Kenyan administration. We are aware that a quantitative investigation of ERS and APRM achievements would be a useful complement to our evaluation. While an econometric analysis of the determinants of good governance is beyond the scope of the present study, we can suggest several data sources for further research. Transparency International’s Global Corruption Barometer (GCB) and Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) are composite indices of corruption perceptions indicators and assessments by business people, country analysts and service organisations (TI, 2007: 314, 324). The Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission provides statistics on the value of recovered properties and prosecution rates for corruption cases (KACC, 2005-2006: 17). Perhaps most significantly, the World Bank is currently developing indicators of ‘a nation’s commitment to monitoring enforcement and realisation of anticorruption goals’, which should facilitate future evaluations of governance reforms (TI, 2007: 310).
Being based mostly on qualitative data, this paper therefore does not intend to produce empirical, widely applicable policy prescriptions; rather, we hope to highlight new areas of study by innovatively contrasting the PRSP and the APRM. We also aim to determine which balance of donor influence and government ownership is optimal for Kenya’s reform. Our findings suggest that both programmes have been hampered by poor political will in the Kenyan government; merging these approaches may more effectively encourage sustainable, country-led reform.
THE PROBLEM OF POOR GOVERNANCE
Governance refers to the effective rule of law, accountability, public participation, and transparency in the management of the public realm (World Bank, 1998, cited in Mutizwa-Mangiza, 2006: 10). The problem of poor governance is especially pressing in less developed countries, where institutions in which political competition and public scrutiny of the executive can occur are weak. Yet sound institutional frameworks are crucial to promoting economic growth via investment, entrepreneurship, and innovation. Unless such frameworks are built to tackle corruption within governmental bodies, ‘prospects for LDC development will remain very poor indeed’ (Clay, 2007: 4).Kenya’s notoriously poor governance is clearly reflected in its corruption record, which continues to make international headlines: of 18 seriously flawed contracts exposed in 2006, 13 dated from 2002-2003, the period which yielded power to the present government (Clay, 2007: 3). The cost of grand corruption to the Kenyan Treasury in 2006 roughly equalled development aid inflows for that year, leading to the common belief that ‘the best business in Kenya is corrupt business’ (Clay, 2006: 3). Indeed, Transparency International’s Kenya Bribery Index 2007 finds little improvement in the public’s corruption perceptions over recent years (Figure 1; TI, 2007: 8).
Data source: TI Kenya Bribery Index 2007
Corruption involves the misuse of public funds by government officials for their personal benefit, and voluntary or forced bribery by citizens to obtain services which they should be entitled to. In Kenya, corruption in public institutions has been a telling indicator of wider governance-related problems, such as lack of democratic space for Kenyan citizens and insufficient government interest in political reform. We therefore use measures of governmental corruption as a proxy for the quality of Kenya’s governance.
From 1978 until 2002, Kenya was led by President Daniel Arap Moi of the Kenya African National Union (KANU). While the state had a healthy economy and a relatively strong institutional framework at independence, corrupt practices became commonplace (Mutizwa-Mangiza, 2006: 15). Poor fiscal management limited effective government investment, and public distrust of the executive hindered private investment. Principally due to ‘weak governance, corruption, and inadequately coordinated […] government actions’, the economy’s 2001 growth rate was the lowest of the post-independence era, at -0.3% (Kiringai, 2001: 1).
The election of President Mwai Kibaki of the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) in 2002 revived hopes of political transformation. But the NARC government has also disappointed expectations in its battle against corruption. TI’s 2006 CPI still rates Kenya at 2.2, up from an average of 2 in pre-election years (TI, 2006: 330). The CPI being on a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 is highly corrupt, this reflects very little improvement. Kenyans still perceive the government office as the country’s most corrupt body (TI interview). For former British High Commissioner to Kenya Sir Edward Clay, ‘the government which promised […] a war on corruption and a new constitution, has instead embraced corruption and denied its citizens constitutional reform’ (Clay, 2006: 4). The government may be deploying insufficient efforts towards improving governance.
HOW CAN GOVERNANCE BE IMPROVED? THE CONDITIONALITY APPROACH
Conditionality refers to the setting of conditions by donor agencies and international institutions; recipient countries must meet these conditions for successive tranches of funding to be disbursed. Conditionality was the basis of the World Bank’s and IMF’s Structural Adjustment Programmes of the 1980s; it is widely recognised, however, that the SAPs were not the panacea their proponents expected them to be. The failure of traditional conditionality is partly attributed to deficiencies within the IFI programmes themselves: Joseph Stiglitz suggests that IFI staff often use ethnocentric, ‘bad economics’ in their recommendations (Stiglitz, 2007: 13), for Ngaire Woods the hierarchical rigidity of IFI structures impedes programme innovation (Woods, 2006: 104). Yet recipient country characteristics, such as the presence of good governance institutions and rule of law, also impact the adjustment process. Indeed, on the basis of 220 World Bank adjustment programmes, Dollar and Svensson (2000: 905) find ‘no evidence that any of the variables under the World Bank’s control affect the probability of success or failure of an adjustment loan’, which depends on domestic political-economy forces. This conclusion shakes the very foundations of traditional IFI policies, and suggests that the omission of governance-related clauses in the SAPs may have heavily contributed to their malfunction.
Conditionality is further criticised for undermining state sovereignty by rendering governments accountable to external bodies rather than to their own people. ‘A nation’s desperate need for short-term financial help’, Buira argues, ‘does not give the IMF the moral right to substitute its technical judgements for the outcome of the nation’s political process’ (Buira, 1998: 57). Such arguments depict developing countries as the powerless recipients of external policymaking – they must however be moderated in the case of Kenya, which is not aid-dependent: donor support represents less than 2% of the national budget and has not been factored into budget planning for the last two years (Interview with European Commission). Nonetheless, as interviewed NEPAD representatives noted, the ‘immoral and condescending’ nature of conditionality provides little motivation for change within recipient countries.
The failure of traditional IFI adjustment programmes based on conditions of a solely macroeconomic nature, coupled with findings highlighting the importance of good governance for successful reform, has dramatically shifted the focus of conditionality. Since the 1990s, the IFIs have undergone what Woods calls a ‘second-generation reform’ (Woods, 2006: 129): ‘good governance has become enshrined in the[ir] commandments’ (Kapur and Webb, 2000: 3). Yet an evaluation of these institutions’ current programmes in Kenya raises questions as to whether conditionality is appropriate for tackling questions of political reform.
1. Introducing governance into conditionality: poverty reduction strategy papers
In September 1997, the World Bank adopted a policy statement that ‘corruption should be explicitly taken into account in country risk analysis [and] lending decisions’ (World Bank, cited in Kapur and Webb, 2000: 3). IFI conditions have since been repackaged as Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs), with a novel focus on governance, transparency, accountability and institutional reform. In Kenya, the PRSP’s governance-related clauses include downsizing of the public sector, reduction of the government’s bloated wage bill, setting up the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC), and passing the Economic Crimes Bill and Public Officers Ethics Act.
The PRSP’s most fundamental innovation lies in its focus on government ownership of reforms. At their September 1999 annual meetings, the World Bank and IMF proposed that all their conditional lending be based on ‘country-owned’ poverty reduction strategies (Levinsohn, 2003: 121). As Kapur and Webb (2000: 8) explain, ‘reforms rarely succeed unless a government shares the conviction that they are essential’. PRSPs therefore request that plans of action be drafted by the recipient governments before submission to the Bank and Fund for approval. Only then can countries apply to the IMF’s advisory board for funding (Levinsohn, 2003: 121; Interview with the IMF). Solutions are therefore designed through improved consultation with the recipient country and with reference to its particular circumstances, reflecting a genuine change from traditional lending initiatives.
2. Evaluating the ERS / PRSP effectiveness
In Kenya, although a PRSP was completed in 2000 under the Moi regime, funds were not disbursed for the programme due to strained relations with donors. With the 2002 election of the NARC coalition, however, the PRSP was reformulated as the Economic Recovery Strategy for the creation of employment and welfare (ERS) and funding was renewed. We will investigate whether the ERS really is a government-owned and consultative process (Section 2.1) and whether it has been effective in improving governance (Section 2.2).
2.1 a. Government ownership
Interviews with donor agencies and Kenyan ministerial staff suggest that the ERS is truly country-owned. A European Commission representative had ‘never heard complaints that [the ERS] is donor-driven’. Similarly, a Ministry of Planning employee explained that donors ‘supported what the government was already doing without interference’ and felt that his government fully controlled the action plan. As underlined by an IMF representative, the PRSP conditionality assesses the country’s progress according to its own benchmarks. Thus, the IMF requires evidence that the country is keeping to its intended plan of action and disburses loan tranches accordingly. Ideally, the Fund bases its conditions on entirely government-generated targets (Interview with the IMF). Country-ownership was also a clear priority for World Bank representatives.
Yet despite this insistence on country-generated guidelines, as put by an IMF representative, ‘that’s rarely the way it actually works out.’ In practice, he explained, countries often make these guidelines ‘as soft as possible’, or set unrealistic targets. While the IMF is ‘not interested in making it as tough as possible,’ it requires markers that clearly indicate that project objectives will be met. An World Bank economist whom we interviewed also stressed the need for setting firm conditions. Indeed, overly optimistic targets had to be revised in implementing Kenya’s ERS, and meeting these has proved problematic: whereas six disbursements should have occurred since 2004, by 2007 none had.
A further difficulty is that many countries lack the qualifications to draft sound poverty reduction strategies (Levinsohn, 2003: 124). Even in Kenya, which has access to high-level economists, the Bank and Fund often intervene to provide technical assistance, which they concede reflects their own policy preferences (interview with the IMF). For Levinsohn, the notion of country-driven strategies may expect too much out of recipient countries. In the absence of sufficient analytical capacity on behalf of the country, he writes, ‘one just gets platitudes and . . . a discussion of what the country thinks the Bank and Fund want to hear’ (Levinsohn, 2003: 125). The IMF representative interviewed acknowledged this possibility. Many practicalities prevent the Kenyan government from taking full ownership of its poverty reduction strategy.
2.1 b. A consultative process
For the ERS to be fully country-owned, it is vital to consult not only the country’s government but also its population. Rather than simply depending on the ministry of finance’s approval, ERS elaboration requires the participation of many ministries, ethnic minorities and other stakeholders (Levinsohn, 2003: 121). The Ministry of Planning explained that throughout drafting the ERS the government engaged in Consultative Group meetings with development partners, followed by regular reunions with the KACC, civil society organisations, and members of the private sector. When asked about its involvement as a civil society organisation in the consultation process, the NGO Transparency International likewise acknowledged that its opinion was frequently solicited.
However, staff members were sceptical as to the impact that their input really had on the final ERS (Interview with TI). This is partly because Kenya lacks a systematic forum that can bring members of civil society together to share their findings, and monitoring by NGOs is disorganized due to poor financial support. This has led to a deficit of participation and to an exclusion of the poor from consultation (Shiverenje, 2005: 31). Additional procedures to institutionalise the stakeholder participation must be established before reform can truly be country-owned.
2.2. Effectiveness of implemented programmes
The ERS’s principal governance-related clauses centre on tackling corruption; accordingly, we evaluate the programme’s effectiveness by observing the outcomes of its anti-corruption initiatives. These include the setup of the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission in 2003 and the passing of the Procurement Bill, Budget Overlook Paper, Performance Contract, Public Officers Ethics Act, and Public Officers’ Performance Act. Whilst interviewed representatives of the Ministry of Finance and of the KACC insisted on these bills’ effectiveness, critics question whether they are genuine, or implemented simply to secure donor funds. As suggested by European Commission representatives, ‘the government’s intention [at times] seems to be to create a lot of new laws, but not to improve anything.’
2.2 a. The Kenya anti-corruption commission
Established under the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act in 2003, the KACC’s mandate includes the prevention, detection, and investigation of corruption, as well as law enforcement against corruption practices (KACC, 2005-2006: 4). Since its inception the KACC has faced accusations of incompetence. Its structure is rather limited in terms of sanctioning corruption: out of 7,888 reports of economic crime brought to the Commission in 2005-2006, only 15% fell under its mandate (KACC, 2005-2006: 4). Furthermore, as the Commission itself has no powers of prosecution, actionable cases must be submitted to Kenya’s Attorney General (AG) before legal action is undertaken. As the current AG retains his functions from lengthy service in the Moi regime, he is feared to have vested interests in multiple cases; indeed, no large-scale corruption cases have been brought to court since 2003 (Interviews with TI, IMF). Some even describe the KACC as ‘a total façade’ which ‘does not give the AG enough evidence to prosecute cases’ (Interview with FNSF).
The public perception of the KACC has consequently worsened since its establishment. The KACC’s claims that it is ‘100% independent’ from the government no longer seem credible. As put by an IMF representative, ‘the KACC makes it harder for you to steal, but if you succeed, you’re okay’. In reply to such accusations, KACC staff objects that the institution has significantly progressed in the area of prevention, primarily through civic education. Some of these efforts have paid off: the Kenyan public’s willingness to report bribes has increased from 9% to 14% of respondents since 2005, and citizens’ perceptions of improvement in government institutions have risen by 10% during this time (TI, 2007: 8).
As noted by KACC’s Principal Officer for Prevention, 2005-2006 was the Commission’s first year of full operation with a complete staff, and it may simply be too early for grand corruption cases to have come to court. A Ministry of Planning representative likewise suggested that the public ‘may be rushing to see results without considering the due process’. Such arguments however appear insufficient in the face of growing discontent with this institution.
2.2 b. Passed anti-corruption bills
The second ERS-led initiative in terms of combating corruption has been the enactment of acts and bills. The Performance Contract, Public Officers Ethics Act, and Public Officers’ Performance Act aim to increase incentives for public officers to refuse bribes and to instil a culture of transparency in government offices. Under the Performance Contract, public officers must meet work quotas within a given time period; a Ministry of Planning representative claimed that this Contract has increased administrative efficacy, and argued that the salary increment implemented under the Public Officers Ethics Act has ‘made people want to work more’. He concluded that most colleagues had ‘grown to dislike bribes’ and were now unwilling to take them. European Commission representatives also expressed optimism, and the TI Kenya Bribery Index 2007 notes that, ‘the corporate governance and procurement reforms undertaken […] are paying off’ (TI, 2007: 8).
Yet the effectiveness of the ERS’s anti-corruption clauses remains ambiguous. The Kenya Bribery Index 2007’s survey respondents encountered bribery in 54% of their interactions with public and private institutions, up from 47% in 2005; Kenya’s total bribe burden has increased by 50% over the last two years (TI, 2007: 20). Government interference in the enactment of anti-corruption bills has also raised criticism. The results of the 2003 Public Officials Act, whereby high-ranking government officials had to declare their wealth, were for instance never made public (Interview with FNSF). For TI, ‘these laws are designed mostly to improve the record and to warm up to donors’ rather than to initiate genuine change. As Figure 2 (adapted from the GJLOS Baseline Report 2007) suggests, much of the Kenyan public shares this view: only 16% of respondents believe the government is ‘committed’ to reform’, and 24% claim that it is ‘not committed’. Likewise, the Kenyan public has reservations concerning the effectiveness of the KACC and of ERS-promoted legislation (Figure 3): the majority of respondents think that these efforts have reduced corruption ‘only a little’ over the past year.
Data source: GJLOS 2006 Baseline Report 2007
Data source: GJLOS 2006 Baseline Report 2007
An intriguing aspect of the GJLOS Report, which collects data by province, is that optimistic respondents are concentrated in the more economically-active provinces (especially Nairobi and Central), whilst the majority of respondents in particularly poor provinces (such as Nyanza and North-Eastern) report ‘little effectiveness’ or ‘don’t know’. These discrepancies indicate that poorer provinces may be slighted by government efforts, and also reveal lower civic awareness in these areas. Such factors may facilitate the government’s elusion of reform, and may deserve further study.
Our findings thus suggest that, while bills and reforms requested by the ERS have improved transparency and awareness of ‘petty’ corruption in Kenya, high-level corruption may remain undisclosed in the absence of genuine political will. This signals wider dysfunctions within Kenyan governance structures, which the ERS is unable to address.
IS CONDITIONALITY APPROPRIATE TO IMPROVING GOVERNANCE?
Many critics claim that the ERS’s impact is low simply because conditionality is an inappropriate tool for monitoring governance. IFIs may not have sufficient experience in the area of governance to adequately address governmental reform in their conditions: as an IMF representative admits, IMF decision-makers are ‘just a bunch of PhD economists […] and how far the IMF should go along the road of governance is an ongoing debate’. More condemnatory, TI representatives concluded that conditionality ‘created avenues for corruption’: the moves required by donors can disrupt ongoing government efforts to regulate corruption, and donor-initiated bodies (such as the KACC) are often too expensive for governments to run realistically. Conditionality may thus deepen the problems it attempts to solve by ‘imposing extra costs on countries and making governments shift their priorities’, eclipsing local initiatives (interview with TI).
Imposing conditions on governance may also generate a backlash from the recipient, as ‘the government does not want to be dictated to’ (interview with APRM Programme Officer). Yet can governance be improved internally and without conditions? Analysing Kenya’s prime alternative to conditionality, the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), is key to answering this question.
THE ‘ENDOGENOUS’ APPROACH: THE AFRICAN PEER REVIEW MECHANISM
In 2002, member states of the African Union agreed to the AU Declaration on Democracy, Political, Economic and Corporate Governance; the signatories committed themselves to upholding standards of good governance. The following year, the APRM was set up under the auspices of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). This self-reviewing mechanism focuses on improving socio-economic development, democracy, and political, economic and corporate governance continent-wide. The APRM is voluntarily acceded to by states and stresses national ownership of action plans; unlike other multilateral approaches, it is internal to Africa and entirely conditionality-free. It also adopts a more comprehensive view of governance, a significant improvement over IFI initiatives. The APRM is seen as ‘a friendly learning process’ through which African countries assess each others’ performances, share experiences, and identify weaknesses and successful practices in improving governance (NEPAD Kenya Secretariat, 2007: 29).
Kenya was the third country of the AU to volunteer for assessment in 2003. A 33-member independent APRM National Governing Council, nominated by civil society stakeholders, was established to oversee the process. The final country report concludes on a note of optimism, describing the government’s August 2005 Self-Assessment Report as ‘the most thorough expression of public opinion to have ever occurred in Kenya’, having drawn on eighteen months of household surveys, public forums and plenary sessions held across the country’s eight provinces (Mutizwa-Mangiza, 2006: 22). The report notes that ‘unlike his predecessor, President Kibaki has demonstrated courage and will to end corruption in the public sector’ (NEPAD Kenya Secretariat, 2007: 246).
Interviewed NEPAD and NGO representatives echoed this enthusiasm, viewing the APRM as a substitute for conditionality-based approaches. It capitalises on competition between African states rather than on uneven donor-recipient relationships, and may thus provide an incentive structure better suited to improving governance than does the traditional ‘carrot-and-stick approach’ (interview with FNSF). The APRM is hoped to ‘succeed . . . where lectures, browbeating, incentives and the rest of the donor paraphernalia have failed’ (Clay, 2006: 2). For the APRM Programme Officer to Kenya, this self-initiated project indicates genuine will for reform in African countries, and heralds that ‘conditionality is going to be a thing of the past’.
AN EVALUATION OF THE APRM
Views of the APRM as a ‘more credible alternative to conditionality’ (Interview with APRM) are however highly contested. For a European Commission representative, the APRM, like the ERS, is ‘a bit of a shopping list’: poorly outlined priorities and the proliferation of clauses and bills ‘make it easy [for the executive] to talk itself out of the situation’ and to exhibit a façade of reform. The APRM’s very logic is also questioned, many being sceptical of ‘the notion of states such as Nigeria, which have had demonstrably notorious governance records, becoming reviewers’ (Mutizwa-Mangiza, 2006: 31). The APRM moreover risks granting African leaders undeserved certificates of good conduct. As Clay notes, ‘governments will not be too hard on fellow-governments […] who knows when one government will not need a ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card from the others?’ (Clay, 2006: 5). Unless all participants are genuinely committed to combating corruption, the APRM’s structures may be overly optimistic.
Since its implementation, Kenya’s APRM process has indeed suffered enough controversy to suggest that the necessary political will is severely lacking. The mechanism’s effectiveness was particularly shaken in July 2005, when Ms Grace Akumu, former chairperson of the APRM’s National Governing Council, questioned the use of funds and the level of public involvement in writing the APRM review. Ms. Akumu argued that, ‘the government is not supposed to interfere with the review […] the report will have no integrity’ (Mutizwa-Mangiza, 2006: 27). Three APRM officials, including Ms Akumu, were then decommissioned, and Kenya subsequently ‘rubbished’ the 2006 Country Report (Mutizwa-Mangiza, 2006: 12). Critical factual errors in this report, such as attributing the notorious 2003 Anglo-Leasing scandal to the former KANU regime rather than to the NARC government, raise further doubts over the autonomy and reliability of the review process (Clay, 2006: 5).
As an endogenous, voluntary approach to improving governance in Africa, the APRM has promising fundamentals. However, the apparent lack of government commitment to change has significantly undermined its credibility in Kenya. The initiative’s main weakness is the absence of binding mechanisms and its reliance on governments to denounce the very corruption from which they may themselves benefit. Yet given the significant problems with the donor-imposed approaches mentioned above, such a valuable opportunity to move beyond conditionality should not be too rapidly dismissed. As TI representatives remind us, ‘Kenya has just come out of twenty years of autocratic rule […] the opening up of political space will take time’. Which balance of conditionality and government ownership will be optimal for Kenya in coming years ultimately depends on the emergence of genuine political will in the country.
POLITICAL WILL IN KENYA: FAÇADE OR REALITY?
The KACC Annual Report 2005-2006 proclaims that, ‘for the first time in Kenya’s history, the war on corruption is no longer sporadic, half-hearted and reactionary, but consistent’. This assertion reflects the remarkable optimism conveyed by interviewed stakeholders, who generally agreed that Kenya was making determined efforts to improve governance under the NARC coalition. According to a KACC officer, legislations such as the Performance Contract and the Rapid Reform Initiative could not have been introduced in the absence of political will. As expressed by the Ministry of Planning, ‘the will [for reform] is there and it is from the top.’
Accordingly, since the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness (2005), the donor community is gradually reducing the conditions on its funding. The European Commission has begun budget support to Kenya, injecting money directly into government accounts rather than tying aid to specific projects; yet it is so far the only donor to have taken this step. Others such as DFID remain more prudent, believing that political will is not yet strong enough for the Kenyan government to implement change in the absence of direct penalties. Disappointing experiences with the APRM process, the ambivalent conclusions of TI’s latest Bribery Index Report, and the fact that cases of corruption are still being exposed, all reflect this need for caution. Had the Kenyan government truly been committed to reform, the APRM and ERS would have more effectively improved governance.
This study highlights the importance of political will as the prerequisite for the success of any development-geared effort. Many development agencies (especially the UNDP) are today attempting to side-step the political will problem by decentralising their aid and granting local initiatives preference over state-centred frameworks. Studies show that these grass-roots approaches are however of little avail in the absence of political will: elite capture is frequently replicated locally by influential civil society representatives (Platteau, 2003: 4). Lack of commitment is thus not simply limited to the spheres of governmental elite, but is prevalent society-wide. Further sociological research into this phenomenon’s underlying causes would bring valuable contributions to development efforts. Corruption in Africa and parts of Asia is often attributed to a culture of particularistic tribal or family-based (rather than national) solidarity networks, which may legitimate nepotistic redistributions of wealth in the eyes of the public (Courade, 2006: 205). Civic awareness may therefore be the primary tool through which to discourage clientelism and to stimulate local and national commitment to development programmes. Globalisation is also upsetting traditional pluralistic networks, strengthening certain interviewees’ arguments that political will could improve with Kenya’s next generation.
The APRM country report explains that ‘Kenya has many good laws, commissions, programmes and institutions that could make it the best-run democracy in Africa’ (NEPAD Secretariat, 2007: 242). For almost half a century, however, corrupt practices and poor government commitment have prevented this transformation from taking place. Our investigation of governance-related conditionality in the form of the Economic Recovery Strategy suggests that this approach is not optimal for promoting institutional reform in the country. As expressed by Joseph Stiglitz, ‘good policies cannot be bought, at least in a sustainable way’ (Stiglitz, 1999, cited in Kapur and Webb, 2000: 7). IFIs must re-conceptualise governance as a more social, economic and political phenomenon, of which corruption and transparency are only one aspect. These principles must furthermore be internalised by recipient countries: although government ownership is officially built into recent programmes, there must be genuine dedication of the executive to the reform process.
Contrasting conditionality-based lending to the African Peer Review Mechanism highlights the potential of regional alternatives. The APRM solicits greater input from Kenyan stakeholders and is more finely tuned to country-specific circumstances. However, its disappointing outcomes suggest that this programme cannot realistically function in the absence of binding mechanisms. The APRM must be more objective and action-oriented, and must mobilise more independent expertise; linking with the United Nations, for instance, may give it the neutrality and credibility it requires.
We conclude that political will is key to successful institutional reform; conditions and participatory frameworks alone cannot render government bodies fully responsible. If political will is lacking, any reform advice that assumes its presence – no matter how country-specific or inclusive of civil society – may well fail. The ERS and the APRM both clearly suffer from insufficient government commitment. Nonetheless, many interviewees claim that a change in mindset is imminent, and that ‘the new generation has Kenya at heart’ (interview with FNSF). To catalyse this evolution, we advocate using a peer-consultation initiative inspired by the APRM to stimulate political will. This improved assessment mechanism could include civil society and actors continent-wide in the definition of binding conditions, provided that indicators of good governance are also agreed upon with external institutions. Once this stricter, more objective and representative peer assessment is established, the potential for moving beyond conventional conditionality may truly be in place.
AFTERWORD: DECEMBER 2007 AND A REVISION OF PAST CONCLUSIONS
Since the writing of this article, Kenya’s NARC government (now PNU, Party of National Unity) has faced its first genuine trial of political will: the holding of presidential and parliamentary elections in December 2007. These elections’ outcome has become sadly notorious: widespread irregularities – to which the Electoral Commission has admitted – granted the outgoing president Mwai Kibaki a fictitious victory over opposition leader Raila Odinga (Orange Democratic Movement, ODM). The stark contrast between the president’s re-election and the ‘vote of no confidence’ placed for PNU in the parliamentary elections (in which the party obtained only 46 of the 210 seats) is clear evidence of such rigging. This complete lack of political integrity was reconfirmed on January 8, with Mwai Kibaki unilaterally appointing seventeen members of his cabinet just hours before power-sharing negotiations were scheduled to be held with ODM (The Monitor, 29 February 2008).
Many have taken the recent constitutional reform instating Raila Odinga as Prime Minister with executive powers to be a positive sign for democracy. However, deep controversy remains over the nomination of Cabinet officials and the sustainability of the PNU-ODM ‘power-sharing’ arrangements. The government has calamitously failed its most important test, and demonstrated that the political will of past years may indeed have been a mere ‘façade’. Sadly, last September’s conclusions were overly optimistic – in its present situation and whilst latter-generation elites remain in power, Kenya is in no measure ready for the ‘move beyond conditionality’.
The primary research for this article was funded by the University of Warwick’s Undergraduate Research Scholarship Scheme.
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
Fig. 1: Kenyan public perceptions of corruption (TI Bribery Index 2007)
Fig. 2: Perceived level of government commitment to reducing corruption (GJLOS 2006 baseline report 2007)
Fig. 3: Perceived effectiveness of ERS-promoted governance reforms (GJLOS 2006 baseline report 2007)
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
|APRM||African Peer Review Mechanism|
|CAS||Country Assistance Strategy|
|CPI||Corruption Perception Index|
|DFID||Department for International Development (UK)|
|ERS||Economic Recovery Strategy for the creation of employment and welfare|
|ESAF||Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility|
|FNSF||Friedrich Naumann Stiftung Foundation|
|IFIs||International Financial Institutions|
|IMF||International Monetary Fund|
|KACC||Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission|
|KANU||Kenya African National Union|
|NARC||National Rainbow Coalition|
|NEPAD||New Partnership for Africa’s Development|
|NGC||National Governing Council|
|PRSP||Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper|
|SAP||Structural Adjustment Programme|
|UNDP||United Nations Development Programme|
|UNHDR||United Nations Human Development Report|
Appendix 1: Ten years of governance initiatives in Kenya
|1997:||IMF stops ESAF disbursements due to poor progress in governance.|
|2000:||PRSP document completed under KANU regime; lending restarts.|
|Dec. 2000:||Lending suspended due to new evidence of grand corruption.|
|Dec. 2002:||NARC government elected, IMF and WB willing to resume lending.|
|2003:||Setup of Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC).|
|Mar. 2003:||Kenya joins APRM.|
|May 2004:||ERS (reformulation of the PRSP under the new government) initiated.|
|Oct. 2004:||APRM National Governing Council appointed.|
|2004-2007:||CAS initiated (WB programme based on ERS).|
|Aug. 2005:||Draft APRM programme of action & Internal Self-Assessment completed.|
|May 2006:||Review of APRM Kenya Report at AU summit in Banjul.|
|Aug. 2007:||TI Kenya Bribery Index reveals uneven progress in tackling corruption.|
|Dec. 2007:||Evidence of fraud in Kenya presidential and parliamentary elections, leading to a revision of the conclusions of the current paper.|
Appendix 2: List of interviews carried out as part of this research
World Bank: April 14th 7:00 PM, Thigiri Gardens, New Muthaiga, Nairobi.
IMF Kenya: April 17th 12:00 PM, Kenyari Towers 10th floor, Upper Hill, Nairobi.
European Commission: April 16th 11.00 AM, Union Insurance House, Regati Road, Upper Hill, Nairobi.
Friedrich Naumann Stiftung Foundation: April 14th 11:00 AM, United Nations complex, Gigiri, Nairobi.
Transparency International Kenya: April 17th 10:00 AM, Community Centre, ACK Garden House, Nairobi.
APRM Kenya: April 16th 12:00 PM, Liason House, Statehouse Avenue, Nairobi.
Ministry of Planning: April 16th 2:00 PM, Treasury Building, Nairobi.
Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission: April 16th 4:30 PM, Integrity Centre, Nairobi.
DFID Kenya: April 17th 11:00 AM, British High Commission, Upper Hill Road, Nairobi.
Former British High Commissioner to Kenya: June 25th, email interview.
Members of the general Kenyan public.
 Julie Biau is currently undertaking an Erasmus year abroad in Universidad Carlos III,
Buira, Ariel (ed.) (2003), Challenges to the World Bank and IMF: Developing Country Perspectives, G24 Research Program, London: Anthem Press
Clay, Edward (2007), ‘How Bad Governance Impedes Economic Development’ in Warwick International Development Summit Post-Summit Magazine 2006, Warwick International Development Society (WIDS)
Clay, Edward (2006), ‘The African Peer Review Mechanism: Not Yet Fit For Purpose’, personal communication
Courade, George (ed). (2006), L’Afrique des idées reçues, Collection Mappemonde, Belin
Danaher, Kevin and Muhammad Yunus, (eds) (1994), 50 Years is Enough: the case against the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, South End Press
De Blasio, Guido and Alberto Dalmazzo (2003), ‘Resources and Incentives to Reform’, IMF Staff Papers Vol. 50, No. 2
De Maria, William (2005), 'The new war on African corruption: Just another neo-colonial adventure', in Gilson, C. H. J. (ed.), Critical Management Studies Proceedings 2005: Critique and Inclusivity: Opening the Agenda, Waikato Management School, Waikato, New Zealand
Dollar, David and Jakob Svensson (2000), ‘What explains the success or failure of structural adjustment programmes?’, The Economic Journal, 110, 894-917
Government of Kenya in collaboration with the International Monetary Fund and World Bank (1996), Economic Reforms for 1996-1998: The Policy Framework Paper
Government of Kenya (2007), ‘GJLOS National Integrated Household Baseline Survey – Data Tables’, Governance, Justice, Law and Order Sector (GJLOS) Reform Programme
Government of Kenya, Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper for Kenya, 2001-2004
Ghosal, Sayantan and Kannika Thampanishvong (2007), ‘Optimal Sovereign Debt Write-Downs’, CMDA Working Paper No. 07/10, Centre for Dynamic Macroeconomic Analysis, University of St Andrews
Grant, Ruth W. and Robert O. Keohane (2005), ‘Accountability and Abuses of Power in World Politics’, American Political Science Review, 99 (1), 29-43
Hughes, Alexandra (2002), Lessons Learnt On Civil Society Engagement in PRSP Processes in Bolivia, Kenya And Uganda: a Report Emerging From the Bolivian-East African Sharing and Learning Exchange, Brighton: Institute of Development Studies (IDS)
Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission, KACC Annual Report 2005-2006
Kanbur, Ravi (2000), ‘Aid, Conditionality and Debt in Africa’, in Tarp, Finn (ed.), Foreign Aid and Development: Lessons Learnt and Directions for the Future, London and
Kanbur, Ravi (2002), ‘IFI’s and IPG’s: Operational Implications for the World Bank’, G24 Technical Group meeting, Beirut
Kanbur, Ravi and Matti Tuomala (2001), ‘Incentives, Inequality And The Allocation Of Aid When Conditionality Doesn't Work: An Optimal Nonlinear Taxation Approach’, Working Paper 2001-11, Department of Applied Economics and Management Cornell University, Ithaca,
Kapur, Devesh and Richard Webb (2000), ‘Governance-related Conditionalities of the International Financial Institutions’, G-24 Discussion Paper Series, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, 6 (August 2000)
Kaufmann, Daniel, Aart Kraay and Massimo Mastruzzi (2007), ‘Measuring Corruption: Myths and Realities’, in Transparency International (2007), Global Corruption Report 2007, Cambridge University Press, pp. 318-23.
‘Kenya: The Agreement’, Kampala: The Monitor, 29 February 2008, http://allafrica.com/stories/200802281080.html, accessed March 1 2008
Kiringai, Jane (2001), ‘Debt and the PRSP Conditionality: The Kenya Case, Preliminary Draft’, Kenya Institute of Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA)
Knack, Stephen, and Aminur Rahman (2007), ‘Donor Fragmentation and Bureaucratic Quality in Aid Recipients’, Journal of Development Economics, 83, 176-97
Levinsohn, James A. (2003), ‘The poverty reduction strategy paper approach: good marketing or good policy?’, in Buira, Ariel (ed.), Challenges to the World Bank and IMF: Developing Country Perspectives, G24 Research Program, London: Anthem Press
Mauro, Paulo (1995), ‘Corruption and Growth’, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 110 (3), 681-712
Mutizwa-Mangiza, Shingai Price (2006), ‘Good Governance and National Development: a Review of the Implementation of the African Peer Review Mechanism in Kenya’, personal communication
NEPAD Kenya Secretariat (2006), ‘African Peer Review Mechanism: Country Review Report of the Republic of Kenya’
NEPAD Kenya Secretariat (2006), ‘African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM): Popular Version Kenya Report’
O’Brien, F. S. and T. C. I. Ryan (1999), Aid and Reform In Africa: Kenya Case Study, Washington,
Platteau, Jean-Philippe and Gaspart, Frédéric (2003), Extracts from ‘Disciplining Local Leaders in Community-Based Development’, Belgium: Centre for Research on the Economics of Development (CRED)
Rahman Kahn, Azizur (1993), Structural Adjustment and Income Distribution, Geneva: International Labour Office
Republic of Kenya (2003), ‘Kenya Gazette Supplement: Acts, 2003, The Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act, 2003’, Nairobi: Government Printer
Shiverenje, Hudson (2005), ‘What Happened to the PRSP in Kenya? The Role of Politics’, in National Council of NGOs, Facts on the Economic Recovery Strategy: Civil Society Perspective, Participatory Learning and Action 51, pp. 27-29
Sobhan, Rehman (2005), ‘Democratising the MDG Agenda’, in Achieving the Internationally Agreed Development Goals, United Nations Department of Social and Economic Affairs, United Nations Publications, pp. 106-11
Stiglitz, Joseph (2007), Globalisation and its Discontents, London: Penguin Books
Toh, Kiert (2004), ‘Conference on Agricultural Competitiveness for Economic Growth and Poverty: Speech by Dr. Kiert Toh, USAID/Kenya Mission Director’, Nairobi
Transparency International (2007), Global Corruption Report 2007, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press
Transparency International Kenya (2007), ‘The Kenya Bribery Index 2007’
Woods, Ngaire (2006), The Globalizers: the IMF, the World Bank, and their Borrowers, Ithaca: Cornell University Press
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) (2006), Human Development Report 2006, Ch. 3: ‘Aid for the 21st Century’
UNDP Kenya (2005), Kenya Development Cooperation Report 2004
Van de Walle, Nicholas (1994), ‘Review: Adjustment Alternatives and Alternatives to Adjustment’, African Studies Review, 37 (3), 103-17
World Bank (2004), ‘A More Equitable, Prosperous and Competitive Kenya: Country Assistance Strategy (CAS) 2004-2007’, World Bank Group
To cite this paper please use the following details: Biau, C. and Biau, J. (2008), ‘Governmental Reform in Developing Countries: External Conditionality versus Peer Pressure. The Case of Kenya', Reinvention: a Journal of Undergraduate Research, Volume 1, Issue 1, http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/go/reinventionjournal/volume1issue1/biau Date accessed [insert date]. If you cite this article or use it in any teaching or other related activities please let us know by e-mailing us at Reinventionjournal at warwick dot ac dot uk.
© Reinvention: a Journal of Undergraduate Research (2008). Full copyright remains with the author.
Representations of Reality in a Court of Law
by Rebecca Funnell, Department of Sociology, University of Warwick 
This article explores the presentation and representation of reality in an English legal context. It considers how competing claims of truth are presented, and examines some of the factors which may inform, challenge or endorse such claims. The article employs a range of sociological and critical legal perspectives which challenge the ‘intrinsic rationality’ of the court. Specific examples of factors which may influence the presentation, identification and interpretation of truth are identified through situated ethnographic investigation, and grouped around themes. The analysis builds on observations carried out over the course of a four-day trial and the field notes from this research were used to illustrate further the constructed nature of reality in court. The limitations of the research process and my role as ‘I-as-researcher’, with its associated impact on the reliability and validity are identified along with areas for future research.
KEYWORDS: Legal process, intrinsic rationality, court, ethnographic approach, presentation of self.
This article explores the presentation and representation of ‘reality’ in an English legal context. It seeks to explore how competing claims of truth are presented and examined, and some of the factors which may inform, challenge or endorse such claims. The literature suggests that such claims may be deliberately constructed to present a particular perspective – for example a defendant deliberately and knowingly falsifying a presentation of reality so as to avoid conviction – or unintentionally constructed, for example a misreading of a social context or the intentions of another person (Ward, 2004).
This article seeks to challenge the institutionalised notion that through the legal process with its intrinsic rationality a definitive truth is established. Rather it suggests that notions of truth and fact are themselves socially constructed and what occurs in a legal context is the presentation of versions of reality, which are themselves produced and reproduced by a range of structural and ideological factors.
The contested and adversarial nature of the judicial system, with defined roles of prosecution and defence, and the pivotal role of the judge, offers a powerful context for exploring how and why different interpretations of reality might occur in social settings. For example, a defendant may wish to present him/herself as innocent by shaping a particular sense of reality; equally, a prosecution case may seek to undermine a witness’s grasp of the facts, establishing doubt which might benefit a particular argument.
A number of factors might also lead to the misinterpretation of reality, for example the specific ways in which the prosecution and defence ask questions to generate certain answers. Furthermore, barristers try to unpick a specific presentation of reality, and frame questions to generate answers that best support their case. These questions act as scaffolding, framing the reality presented through subsequent dialogue.
In this article specific examples of factors which may influence the presentation, identification and interpretation of truth and reality are identified through ethnographic fieldwork. These are derived from data gathered from a short field investigation as well as a review of the relevant literature. The ethnographic fieldwork was undertaken between in July and August 2007 at an East Anglian Crown Court. The selected trial was on two counts of blackmail and one count of harassment.
Throughout the research process I was aware of my role as ‘I-as-researcher’ (Schostak, 2002) and its impact on the reliability and validity of the research. Focusing on ‘I-as-researcher’ supports a recognition that what distinguishes social science from the physical sciences is an engagement with the social world which involves actors who have purposes, who choose to act rationally and irrationally, and who return the ‘look’ of the researcher with their own, making judgements, forming opinions and making decisions. As such, the researcher is a subject within a world of subjects, making it important to clarify her/his position, look and influence on the research process itself. This view is consistent with Giddens’s notion of the double hermeneutic and its acknowledgement of the complex inter-relationship between the social world and the researcher (Giddens, 1984). In this particular context this refers to the influence my presence in court may have made to the observed situation and my selection of the issues, themes, quotations and other evidence which support the perspectives I offer. I sought to address this by adopting a reflexive approach and an explicit transparency in my reporting. Nonetheless I recognise that what I discuss in this article is itself a version of reality grounded in my own observations and assessment of what is significant. As such it is a story unique in time and place. To quote Cherryholmes (1993):
‘Research findings tell stories. Often, they are about putative causes and effects. Sometimes they are descriptive, sometimes explanatory. Research findings tell stories that are, more or less, insightful and useful in shaping what we think and do.’ (1993: 2)
In subsequent sections I offer a range of sociological and critical legal perspectives which challenge the ‘intrinsic rationality’ of the court and explore further through a small study to tease out issues and questions.
CRITIQUES OF INTRINSIC RATIONALITY
‘For centuries, law has been justified in philosophical terms: in terms of an intrinsic rationality. Law is rational, and because of that justified. In making this claim, philosophers have necessarily aligned law with the truth. In other words, they have justified law in terms of its foundation in some sort of supreme truth.’ (Ward, 2004: 1)
This ‘intrinsic rationality’ is embedded in the English legal system, and its rules and rituals are played out in a range of legal settings including courts. For Garlan (1941) the law is ‘considered… [to be the] chief symbol and the closest embodiment of the ideals of certainty, security and permanence…’ (1941: 3). However, this idealised position is implicitly and explicitly challenged by certain schools of thought.
Implicitly the social phenomenology of Schutz (1967) and sociology of knowledge of Berger and Luckman (1967) challenge the ‘objective’ character of society and its structures. They suggest that the crucial character of social reality is that it possesses an intrinsic meaning structure, created and maintained through the routine interpretive activities of individual actors. As such ‘reality’ is socially constructed, and:
‘Society is only ‘real’ and ‘objective’ in so far as its members define it as such and orientate themselves towards the reality so defined.’ (Carr and Kemmis 1993: 84)
Goffman, and the symbolic interactionist perspective more generally, suggest that all reality is socially determined and therefore contingent. Indeed while roles are learnt, they also can be in conflict and need not be consistent with a presented reality: ‘…while persons usually are what they appear to be such appearance could still have been managed’ (Goffman, 1990: 77).
Goffman was interested in the methods and techniques that individuals use to obtain and maintain a sense of self and how individuals perform their manifestation of self in face-to-face interaction. Goffman (1990) employs a ‘dramaturgical approach’ to identify human interaction as ‘performance’ which is socialised and shaped by the environment and the ‘audience’, and constructed to provide ‘impressions’ that support the goals of the actor. For Goffman, individuals are selective about the self portrayed on ‘stage’ as the impression made on others needs to be highly guarded so as to avoid destroying social order. Much or all of this presentation of self may be the product of group or team activity (as in a theatre), particularly when presented in an establishment, such as a court setting.
The use of a dramaturgical approach offers an insight into the way individuals interact, and how such behaviour is learnt and roles internalised through complex processes of primary and secondary socialisation. It also illustrates how roles can be in conflict and how the same behaviour can be perceived as acceptable or not in different social settings.
Goffman (1990) highlights the importance of ‘props’ in conveying a sense of self and in convincing the audience of their performance. Props can include clothes, gestures, posture, the words and dialect used, the things carried and the stories told about ourselves.
For Goffman, in a Western context performance becomes closely associated with ‘front’ or that ‘part of the individual’s performance which regularly functions in a general and fixed fashion to define the situation for those who observe the performance’ (Goffman, 1990: 32). For Goffman the front becomes the vehicle for standardisation, supporting a shared and understood representation by establishing the ‘setting’, ‘appearance’ and ‘manner’ for the role adopted by the individual. It may also establish a basis for social control as any role, and its characteristics, need to be communicated in ways which are socially sanctioned and acceptable to society. The basis of such acceptability may itself be ideological or structural.
From these perspectives emerges a sociological research interest in how the behaviours of actors in a court setting, and the presentation of truth and fact, are produced and reproduced recognising that actors have individual interests and motivations. As such the very facts on which judgments are made are themselves socially determined, ambiguous and contested. This research explores these issues in a specific context.
A more explicit challenge to the ‘intrinsic rationality’ of the law comes from legal realism and critical legal studies which suggest that the law is indeterminate, that it has uncertainties and cannot always be predictable (see for example Twining, 1973). Legal realists and critical legal studies suggest that the law is open to continuous interpretation and manipulation from a number of complex and competing perspectives including legal agents such as judges, barristers and solicitors, and external factors such as witness bias. It recognises the interrelationship between the law and the wider society within which it operates, including the requirement for the law to adapt as society changes. As such suggesting the law is not a stable system; rather one that is contested, fluid and socially determined.
Legal realism and critical legal studies oppose formalism and its view that judges should be able to apply the law literally to every case, with a strict adherence to the rule of law and little or no interpretation. Rather, legal realists ‘reject the view that law is a determinate body of doctrine or that precedents and statutes determine the outcome of legal disputes’ (Martin and Law, 2006: 311). In this context, Frank identified a source of indeterminacy in law as being the inability to predict the outcome of legal cases. Frank identified two groups of legal realists who were ‘skeptical of the role of legal rules as determinants of actual legal decisions’ (1987: 496): rule sceptics and fact sceptics. A source of legal indeterminacy for rule sceptics is located in the ambiguity of legal documentation. While fact sceptics argue that the main cause of legal uncertainty is not uncertainty with the rules but with the facts themselves.
The primary focus of the fact sceptics is on the trial courts where evidence is presented and where the presented reality can be misrepresented and misinterpreted. Indeed for fact sceptics the unpredictability of human agency makes it impossible to predict trial verdicts. Frank (1949) highlights certain human traits that make prediction impossible such as the racial, religious, political, gender or class-based prejudices of the trial judge or the jury. Further there are uncertainties with witness statements due to human error where what witnesses believe they saw or heard may not be consistent with other reported evidence. Witnesses may present their perception of the facts differently in court from previous witness statements given at the time of the alleged offence. Equally, witnesses may deliberately lie or falsify evidence for a particular purpose which is counter to a fair and just outcome. To quote Frank:
‘The chief obstacle to prophesying a trial-court decision is, then, the inability, thanks to these inscrutable factors, to foresee what a particular trial judge or jury will believe to be the facts.’ (1949, cited in Freeman, 2001: 829)Llewellyn (1973) also suggests that the formal and ritualistic approach to legal proceedings may alienate members of the general public and make the law incomprehensible. These factors have an impact on the way reality is presented in a legal context and can influence both the presentation of facts and self by witnesses and defendants, and the way in which decisions are made. From a Marxist perspective this can be presented as reflecting the operation of a class dynamic in the law, favouring those with economic power, education and social status and disadvantaging those in the social/economic underclass – those who are most frequently accused of criminal or deviant activity (Pines, 1993; Young, 1998). For Foucault, truth ‘is not outside of power’ but rather ‘is of this world’ (Foucault, 1980: 121). As such, truth is socially constructed, particularly by those who are powerful enough to make others believe it to be metaphysical.
From these theoretical perspective issues and questions arose which informed my choice of methods and the context in which the research was undertaken.
For this research I adopted an ethnographic approach, using observation and a range of sources and resources to provide field evidence. Effective ethnographic research enables the gathering of rich data (Berg, 1989: 120-159). Wolcott suggested that:
‘The underlying purpose of ethnographic research is to describe what the people in some particular place or status ordinarily do, and the meanings they ascribe to what they do…’ (1999: 68)
As such, this ethnographic approach begins with a situation to be studied, an object of attention (rather than a theory to be explored), and data is produced from which understandings and interpretations about particular social situations can be drawn. My selected research approach sought also to address the problem of establishing epistemic authority. It has concerned itself with the persuasiveness of research rather than its claims for truth. In this way the selected research method sought to be reflexive (scrutinising the epistemic privilege of the researcher) and to acknowledge that such research does not simply reflect reality, it constructs it. Given this, it has been important that ‘I-as-researcher’ is transparent about what I bring to the research setting, and that this transparency is evident in this report.
The fieldwork was undertaken between 30th July 2007 and 2nd August 2007 at an East Anglian Crown Court. The selected trial was on two counts of blackmail and one count of harassment. I was in the court building between 9.30am and 4.30pm each day. I undertook my observation in the court when the trial was being heard, and during times the court was not in session I was based in the judge’s chambers where I engaged in informal conversations with the judge and other court officials.
During my observation in the court I sat on the judge’s bench at the front of the court which provided me with the best view to observe proceedings (see appendix 1 – court layout). To be allowed to sit on the judge’s bench it was necessary to negotiate access. I arranged a prior meeting with the judge where I discussed my research project and was offered the opportunity to shadow him for the duration of the case. The judge therefore acted as a gatekeeper, providing access but also limiting this where he deemed appropriate. In practice I was granted wide-ranging access to case files and was in a position to observe the case fully within the court, both with the jury present and when issues of law were discussed in private. I was also able to discuss the case informally with court officials in backstage settings.
For this research I adopted the role of observer as participant (see for example Junker and Gold’s spectrum, cited in Hammersley and Atkinson, 1995: 104), immersing myself in the interactions occurring in the court setting and observing the associated action. On the judge’s bench I sat to his right, which meant that I was closer to the witness box and avoided obstructing the judge’s view of the public gallery. This position meant that I was part of the proceedings: a participant, albeit a silent one.
I observed a single four-day case which provided an adequate richness of data for analysis. This case was representative of other similar cases although the action observed was unique and the analysis of it does not support generalisation. Although I witnessed the outcome of the case this was not significant in this context. In court I used a notepad and pen to capture observations as they happened. Being able to write field notes while in court also allowed time to record sections of dialogue that offered insight and could later be quoted.
I also kept a field diary throughout the research project where I developed the field notes made in court, documented developments in the case and changes in my thoughts on the research. This enabled me to go back at the time of writing up the research and be able to more closely recall and identify what happened when and where. These field notes were of key importance as they were my interpretations of what had gone on in court and were the basis for developing my findings. While these are a rich source of data I am aware that my reliance on them is a limiting factor, as the choice of which matter omit at this stage is as much an analytical choice as which to include. What is left out may be as important as that which is included. The inference not made or the contribution bypassed or ignored may be as, or more, important than the final text submitted. This tension between reductionism and complexity means that all views are partial, and all are problematic.
Acknowledging this, I adopted a self-critical and reflexive approach to the research process which sought to make transparent any personally introduced bias. Indeed before going into court I read the case information which incorporated all police interviews, photographs, previous convictions of the defendant and court notes on pre-trial information and court procedures. I took account of the potential bias this insider information might give me but felt it useful as it allowed me to focus on the reactions, body language and demeanour of the interactions in court rather than having to understand the details of the case in situ.
My research was undertaken with the full knowledge of court officials but without the informed consent of all others in the court. I acknowledge that this may raise an issue of ethics and that it removes the potential of witnesses and the defendant acting as collaborators in the research process. However courts of law are an open public domain in which transparency is valued. As such the absence of fully informed consent is acceptable if associated with actions to ensure anonymity. For this research I have sought to maintain anonymity by avoiding the use of place names or the names of actors in my reporting.
From this research and the critical literature a number of themes emerged. Combined, they problematise the notion that the legal process can elicit a single, objective truth. Rather the process brings together a range of perspectives from which decisions are made. In this sense the reality presented is socially determined and contested.
ROLE OF COURT SETTING (STAGE) IN SHAPING BEHAVIOUR
The court is a social setting which is bound by rules, rituals and traditions; it is also a public arena which can influence behaviour and the presentation of reality.
Building on Goffman’s (1990) analysis, my field notes suggest that the presiding judge plays a key role in maintaining the pace and process of the trial, in interpreting evidence, in adjudicating on disagreements on law and process and in summarising evidence to the jury. The judge is in role and costume throughout the trial and is treated with titular respect by barristers, court officials, witnesses, the defendant and jury members. This creates an aura of authority which can intimidate and influence the way evidence is presented. For example, in this exchange the judge elicits uncertainty and a changed reality from the witness:
Judge: “So was he (witness One) at the barbecue?”
Witness Seven: “No.”
Judge: “So to help the jury you can confirm that he was not there?”
Witness Seven: [Looks nervous] “I am not sure.”
Judge: “Do you mean he was there?”
Witness Seven: “He might have been.”
Judge: “But you don’t know?”
Witness Seven: “No.”
(Field Notes Wednesday 1st August 2007)
Influence can also come from those in the public gallery or others sitting in the court. On Day One a family member of the defendant was sitting in the public gallery staring intently at the jury. My field notes suggest that some jury members seemed agitated by this man’s presence and tried to avoid looking at him by turning to look away or by making notes. Some jurors appeared anxious as the staring continued and were not fully listening to proceedings (Field Notes Monday 30th July 2007).
On Day Two the press box was occupied. The journalist entered the court while it was in session, holding a local newspaper and notepad, and sat in the press box. Jurors noticed her making notes and some started to make notes themselves, seemingly copying her behaviour. During her time in the court some jurors appeared to be more engaged with the case, listening intensely and visibly acknowledging points in ways that did not appear to occur when the journalist was not in court (Field Notes Tuesday 31st July 2007).
Also on Day Two, while the prosecution barrister was questioning Witness Four some of the jury members became distracted by the defence barrister who appeared disinterested. While he seemed to be listening to the questioning he was also slouched in his chair with his head leaning to the side being supported by his hand, and later picking his nails. This appeared to be a form of performance communicating a sense of disbelief at the evidence, an impression seemingly understood by some jury members (Field Notes Tuesday 31st July 2007).
Earlier that day an application of bad character was made by the prosecution council on grounds that the defendant had previous convictions of battery and assault that were relevant to the current trial. This application was contested by the defence and in particular the defendant who showed signs of anger and agitation while both sides of the application where being heard. While the prosecution barrister put his case for the inclusion of the defendant’s previous convictions, the defendant scowled and shook his head while staring intently towards the barrister. When the prosecution barrister argued that the defendant’s previous offences were related to the current trial the defendant became very agitated, suddenly springing to the floor and asking to speak to his solicitor. During this period the defendant was demonstrating aggressive behaviour that was not seen through the rest of the trial – behaviour not witnessed by the jury, who had been instructed to leave the court while this issue of law was being debated.
After much discussion about the prejudicial affect of inclusion, the judge allowed the defendant’s previous convictions into the case as evidence. Through this process the jury became aware of information that they would otherwise not have known and not have taken into account. As such the presentation of an alternative reality was managed through the legal process.
Combined these examples of behavioural change question the intrinsic rationality of the legal process, suggesting rather that specific and tangible factors can inform and determine the version of reality presented.
HOW REALITY AND TRUTH ARE PRESENTED – SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION
While questioning witnesses, the barristers used a variety of styles of questioning to elicit answers that more closely aligned to the version of reality they were seeking to portray. Specific styles of questioning elicited various reactions from the witnesses and appeared to influence both what they said and the certainty with which it was said.
During questioning, Witness One was asked several times by barristers and the judge about the date he was evicted from the flat he rented from the defendant. As illustrated below during questioning the witness changed his answer, and in turn the facts of the case:
1st time, asked by prosecution barrister:
Witness One: “August to September.”
2nd time, asked by prosecution barrister:
Witness One: “End of August or September.”
3rd time, asked by prosecution barrister:
Witness One: “End of summer, so it was September.”
Prosecution barrister: “So you think it was September”
Witness One: “Yes.”
(The prosecution barrister asked this question a number of times to Witness One while questioning him on the incident; the barrister appeared to be trying to establish some consistency with the witness’s statement).
4th time: the defence barrister stated that in Witness One’s police statement he had said he had lived in the flat between March and November, and was therefore evicted in November.
Witness One: “Summer time is August, September, October, and November.”
5th time, asked by defence barrister:
Witness One: “Towards the end of the year September, October, November.”
6th time: Witness One was asked to reiterate what he had said for the judge, and also to make sure that the jury heard.
Witness One reiterated he was evicted “Towards the end of the year September, October, November.”
(Field Notes Monday 30th July 2007)
Witness One explained to the court he had said in his police statement that he was evicted from the flat in November because he could not remember the exact date and the police were asking for a date and November was his best estimate of when the incident had occurred. This is an example of how perceptions change through the course of questioning and highlights how the witness became flustered and anxious, problematising what he had earlier said and calling into doubt his reliability (a point subsequently made by the defence barrister in summing up).
Questioning can also be used to prompt an answer that the prosecution or defence council want in order to present their version of the facts:
Prosecution barrister: “When did he come?”
Witness One: “I’m sorry I’m not sure of the date.”
Prosecution barrister: “I can tell you it was the 14th December. Does this ring a bell?”
Witness One: “Yes it does.”
(Field Notes Monday 30th July 2007)
During the questioning of Witness Four on Day Two, the defence barrister used tactics to slow the pace of his questioning by pausing for drinks and to write notes. These pauses seemed to be used to allow time for the judge and jury to write notes, but also allowed an opportunity for the barrister to establish the correct phrasing of his questions and to relax the witness. In contrast to the slow-paced, friendly conversational tone of the defence barrister, the prosecution’s questions sought to generate an emotional response from the witness. The prosecution barrister adopted a strong and accusational tone and ended many of his questions with: “That’s right isn’t it?”, “Don’t you?”, “Didn’t you?”, “It was wasn’t it?”. (Field Notes 30th July – 2nd August). For example:
Prosecution barrister: “You are a man that when it suits you, you resort to violence, yes?”
Witness Four: “No.”
[Witness looked at the floor and tapped his feet]
Prosecution barrister: “When somebody owes you money…and they are messing you about…I suggest you also resorted to violence.”
Witness Four: “No.”
[Prosecution barrister slows the questioning down by writing in his notepad]
Prosecution barrister: “You beat him, that’s true isn’t it?”
Witness Four: “No.”
(Field Notes Tuesday 31st July 2007)
While sometimes the prosecution barrister slowed his questioning down, he also had sections of quick-fire questioning between himself and the witness, seemingly to evoke a telling response or error.
Witness Four: “I’m a door supervisor.”
Prosecution barrister: “You’re a bouncer with qualifications.”
Witness Four: “I’m a door supervisor.”
Prosecution barrister: “When people get out of control you chuck them out.”
Witness Four: “Ask them to leave.”
Prosecution barrister: “Chuck them out.”
Witness Four: “Ask them to leave without physical force.”
(Field Notes Tuesday 31st July 2007)
Here Witness Four is not backing down to the accusation, unlike Witness One in the earlier exchange. During the exchange with Witness Four the jury reacted by smirking, suggesting that they did not believe what the witness was saying. During this time the defence solicitor observed the jury’s reaction to the questioning so assessing their reaction to the defendant and the defence case.
Collectively these are examples of how reality is established, examined and redefined in a court context. The questioning of witnesses also highlights a problem with court trials in that they are reliant on recollection and memory, resulting in witnesses heightening the significance of certain events, forgetting others, confusing or muddling behaviours and dates, and having difficulty with estimating length of time and distance. As such the presented reality is a fragmented and challenged set of stories, informed by context and personal gain and intention. The stories themselves are socially constructed, as much informed by the legal process as elicited from it.
‘REALITY’ AS A SUMMARISED STORY
The summing-up of court cases is an example of how reality is interpreted and reinterpreted by the prosecution, the defence barristers and the judge, who aim to mediate and challenge the witnesses’ presentation of the ‘truth’.
During his summing-up, the prosecution barrister asked that the jurors should “See whether they [the witnesses] are truthful”, making the jury question whether the evidence they heard was trustworthy and reliable and whether the witnesses themselves “came across as truthful to you” (Field Notes Wednesday 1st August 2007).
While summing up, the defence barrister used his interpretation of the demeanour of the defendant (Witness Four) and the complainant (Witness One) during questioning to raise suspicion about the reliability of their evidence. The defence barrister stated that “Witness One was thinking on his feet” when trying to answer the defence barrister’s questions. Whereas his client’s (the defendant) “response to challenging questions in contrast were short, sharp and to the point” (Field Notes Wednesday 1st August 2007).
Reflecting Goffmans’ (1990) analysis, the issue of perceived character emerged during the judge’s summing up as he explicitly asked the jury to “make your judgements about their demeanour…against the evidence” (Field Notes Thursday 2nd August 2007), as such using the way in which the witnesses presented themselves and their evidence as a proxy for them being the truth.
This research has problematised the assumption that the adversarial nature of the English legal system can establish an absolute truth on which decisions regarding guilt and innocence can be determined. The evidence suggests that reality as presented in court is socially determined and informed by a range of structural and ideological factors and individual and collective motivations. Building on the work of Schutz (1967), Berger and Luckman (1967) and Goffman (1990) the court can be seen as a social setting which is bound by rules, rituals and traditions, a public arena in which versions of reality are played out. This challenges the notion of an intrinsic rationality inherent in the legal process, problematising its role in determining the ‘truth’ of claims.
However, the outcomes of this research are limited and cannot be generalised. This realisation about the limits and constraints of research endeavour has been an important outcome of the research process and suggests that there are always things that might have been done differently in retrospect and that opportunities might have been more effectively and profitably explored. Nonetheless even this brief immersion in the legal process has demonstrated the complex ways in which particular versions of events are constructed and the potential motivations for these.
Four areas for future research have emerged from this study. The first relates to the extension of this work to include comparative analysis across a range of different court contexts. Another relates to the extending of Goffman’s dramaturgical approach to include the distinction between front and backstage interactions, particularly between court officials. A third would employ discourse analysis to explore the use of everyday language in a court context. Finally, it would be interesting to adopt a more collaborative approach by seeking to interview witnesses to elicit their individual perspectives on the court experience and how their perceptions of reality were shaped by the experience or the earlier preparation for the court case.
Court Room Layout
 Rebecca Funnell is currently in her final year of a BA Sociology Degree at Warwick University. In September she will begin the Graduate Diploma in Law, a postgraduate course at the College of Law in London.
Berg, B. L. (1989), Qualitative Research Methods for the Social Science’, 3rd ed., Needham Heights,
Berger, P. L. and T. Luckman (1967), The Social Construction of Reality, London: The Penguin Press
Carr, W. and S. Kemmis, (1993), Becoming Critical, London: The Falmer Press
Cherryholmes, C. (1993), ‘Reading research’, Journal of Curriculum Studies, 25 (2),1-32
Fitzpatrick, P. and A. Hunt (eds.) (1987), Critical Legal Studies, Oxford: Basil Blackwell Ltd
Foucault, M. (1980), ‘Truth and Power’, in Gordon, C. (ed.), Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings, Brighton: Harvester Press
Frank, J. (1949), ‘Law and the Modern Mind’, in Freeman, M. (ed.) (2001) Lloyds Introduction to Jurisprudence, London: Sweet & Maxwell
Garlan, E. N. (1941), Legal Realism and Justice,
Giddens, A. (1984), The Constitution of Society: Outline of a Theory of Structuration, Berkeley: University of California Press
Goffman, E. (1959, repr. 1990), The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, London: Penguin
Hammersley, M. and P. Atkinson (1995), Ethnography Principles in Practice Second Edition, Oxford: Routledge
Martin, E. A. and J. Law (eds.) (2006), Oxford Dictionary of Law Sixth Edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press
Miles, M. B. and A. M. Huberman (1984), Qualitative Data Analysis. A Sourcebook of New Methods, Beverley Hills, CA: Sage
Pines, L. C. (1993), Ideology and False Consciousness: Marx and his Historical Progenitors,
Schostak, J. F. (2002), Understanding, Designing and Conducting Qualitative Research in Education, Buckingham: Open University Press
Schutz, A. (1967), The Phenomenology of the Social World, Evanston: North-western University Press
Twining, W. (1973), Karl Llewellyn and the Realist Movement, London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson
Ward, I. (2004), Introduction to Critical Legal Theory Second Edition, London: Cavendish Publishing.
Wolcott, H. (1999), Ethnography: A Way of Seeing, London: AltaMira Press
Young, J. (1998), Breaking Windows: Situating the New Criminology, in Walton, P. and J. Young, The New Criminology Revisited, London: Macmillan
To cite this paper please use the following details: Funnell, R. (2008), ‘Representations of Reality in a Court of Law', Reinvention: a Journal of Undergraduate Research, Volume 1, Issue 1, http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/go/reinventionjournal/volume1issue1/funnell Date accessed [insert date]. If you cite this article or use it in any teaching or other related activities please let us know by e-mailing us at Reinventionjournal at warwick dot ac dot uk.
© Reinvention: a Journal of Undergraduate Research (2008). Full copyright remains with the author.