Women and Prevent: Perceptions, Policy and Encounter

Andrews, Sam (2020) Women and Prevent: Perceptions, Policy and Encounter. PhD thesis, University of Lincoln.

Women and Prevent: Perceptions, Policy and Encounter
PhD Thesis
Andrews, Sam - PhD - Criminology.pdf - Whole Document

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Item Status:Live Archive


The UK’s counterterrorism policy CONTEST has generated controversy. The preventative arm
of the policy, Prevent, has been the focus of much of this. Prevent has gone through four
different iterations so far, in 2006, 2009, 2011 and 2018. The periods governed by the policies
of 2006 and 2009 targeted the Muslim community and looked to change the milieu of this
community to increase resilience to extremist ideologies. The periods governed by the 2011
and 2018 policies look to individual interventions and have expanded targeting to the “whole
of society” including the far-right. The work of Prevent between 2006 and 2011 was criticised
because the policy cast suspicion on British Muslims, was accused of spying, and was
Islamophobic. Post-2011, these criticisms have continued. After the introduction of the
“Prevent Duty” in 2015, which put a statutory duty on all public institutions to pay due regard
to Prevent, many have also been concerned that the policy securitizes these institutions and
expands security surveillance throughout society.
The thesis argues that women are primarily seen as peaceful, and thus useful to Prevent as
pacifying agents. The study is analytically original, as it analyses how women have been
included in the policy over time and space. So far, the few studies that have looked at women
have been confined to single case studies or interview work. This study uses mixed sources,
including a review of policy documentation from 2006-2018, case studies of two national
Prevent projects and one local area, interviews with practitioners and with Muslim and BME,
and right-wing women. This includes original primary documentation. It argues that Prevent
largely sees women as mothers and as interlocutors with community members, providing the
policy with access to and influence in these spheres.
Original data from interviews with practitioners further unpack this. These interviews highlight
that shifts in Prevent are largely reactionary. After many women migrated to Islamic State-held
territory in 2014, Prevent was challenged in its conception of the “pacific female”. Thus, it
modified its understanding, and policy changed so that young women could be thought of as a
risk. However, women were still largely seen as peaceful. Women who left for Islamic State
were framed as “brainwashed”, and thus not really violating their femininity. Women were still
key to the policy as mothers, were enlisted to help stop daughters from migrating to Syria.
Women interviewed viewed Prevent as a burden, and one which is especially heavy for women
of colour from a migration background. They also argued that the “brainwashing” narrative is
infantilizing, and that Prevent mainly exists to whitewash political dissent at the expense of
women. Some women also highlight how Prevent allies itself with religious actors,
marginalizing secular women and secular women’s services.
As such this thesis challenges the field include gendered analysis of counterterrorism policy. It
introduces feminist analysis to the field, arguing that while Prevent impacts women beyond
Islamophobia and narratives of suspicion. It also reinforces sexist tropes about women’s place
in the home, and their maternal nature.

Subjects:L Social studies > L300 Sociology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Social & Political Sciences
ID Code:48451
Deposited On:04 Mar 2022 14:53

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