Freedom on Probation. Probation Service in the Federal Republic of Germany between Rehabilitation and Risk (1950-2000)
Associated PhD project
The suspension of a sentence or part of a sentence on probation is based on the idea of resocialisation and therefore on the idea that every individual can choose a life without crime. However, the probation system has had varying priorities concerning assistance and control since its institutionalisation in the 1950s. These changing priorities can be better explained by the changing social, media and scientific landscape than by crime statistics. Trends towards less regulation and trends towards more security partially existed simultaneously.
The research looks at probation as a special form of social engineering. In doing so the rules of normative behaviour and their transformation since the 1950s are considered and the political strategies of governmental and non-governmental actors are examined, along with their policies of assistance and control, and it will be established to what extent providers relied on self-regulation. Transnational references are significant because Germany was strongly orientated towards Great Britain, where risk assessment became an important concept for the probation service much earlier than in Germany.
In addition to literature from the fields of criminology and social therapy, files by private and public probation providers offer interesting insights into individual cases. Interviews will also be conducted in order to gather the experiences of those affected by probation.
Leibniz Centre for Contemporary History
Office: Am Neuen Markt 9d, room 1.23
Email: caroline.peters [at] zzf-potsdam.de