Not Just Another Database: The Transactions that Enact Young Offenders

Ruppert, Evelyn. 2013. Not Just Another Database: The Transactions that Enact Young Offenders. Computational Culture, pp. 1-13. [Article]

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Abstract or Description

The paper draws on Annemarie Mol’s study of how a disease is a multiply enacted entity in the hospital to analyse how an electronic management information system (MIS) enacts subjects and populations as multiples. Its focus is the specificities of a MIS used by youth offending teams in England and Wales to join up and monitor cross-agency case-level data stored in separate case management systems (CMS) in order to identify and intervene in the likelihood of a young person (re)offending. A way of thinking about the MIS is developed that attends to how it not only represents but enacts the young offender as a composite of multiple contexts and subject positions—the subject multiple—and as an accumulation of relations with practitioners, regulations, sites, assessments and so on. While each entry in the MIS is an inscription, the paper focuses on the specific operations that translate and materialise sets of relations. They are conceived of as transactions between practitioners and the MIS, which form a field of multiple conjoined actions that cumulatively enact new entities. When transactions across the 158 YOTs in England and Wales are assembled into a ‘centre of calculation,’ a population multiple is enacted. But it is not a population of young offenders but of the different contexts and subject positions that make them up. In this way, the MIS makes it possible to move between subject and population multiples, between the different contexts that make both of them up, and connects the regularisation of populations to the shaping of individuals. These and other performative effects that go beyond policy precepts are analysed to suggest that software systems are too important to ignore, as they are constitutive of new ways of thinking and governing.

Item Type:


Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Sociology > Centre for Study of Invention and Social Process (CSISP) [2003-2015]


16 November 2013Published

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Date Deposited:

03 Jan 2014 10:39

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 15:56

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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