Overview This case study focuses on an organization (Toll Group) that provides “second chances” to ex-prisoners by providing people leaving prison with secure, decent employment opportunities. Toll Group has developed a structured support program to help the ex-prisoners it employs to become successful employees.
Its support program involves providing case managed, psycho-social supports and additional mentoring support so that ex-prisoners understand how workplaces operate, and understand the formal and informal rules of employment. Toll Group ensures that its former prisoner employees have access to the counselling, drug and alcohol rehabilitation support services, housing services, etc. that they need.
Toll Group sees their supported employment program as part of their corporate social responsibilities. The program is challenging to run, but rewarding for those who are involved in facilitating the reintegration of ex-prisoners into the labour market. All of the detail you need to understand this case can be found here: Toll Group and the “Second Step” program For additional context, most people who are sentenced to prison come from extremely disadvantaged backgrounds and have histories of addiction and mental health issues.
Often, they come from families where there is intergenerational unemployment, meaning many people who are in prison have never seen a family member get up and go to work. They have not had the benefit of the kind of role-modelling that most members of society enjoy. Most ex-prisoners have never finished high school; some have not finished primary school. Crucially, ex-prisoners also have a criminal record; this means that they are screened out of recruitment pools when they apply for jobs.
Some industries flat out forbid the hiring of ex-prisoners, for example, industries that have occupational licensing requirements, where “good character” is pre-requisite. Ex-prisoners are extremely stigmatised members of our communities. An overwhelming number of employers do not wish to hire people who have been to prison, due to concerns, fears, and prejudices. This does not mean that employers’ concerns are illegitimate.
For example, some employers are concerned about the safety of their employees, and about the reputation of the business, should it be made known that they hire ex-prisoners. Yet, having a meaningful job is one of the best “protective” factors against re-offending and returning to prison. Toll Group is a vocal advocate of giving ex-prisoners supported “second chances”. Toll Group actively encourages other organisations to provide opportunities to ex-prisoners.
Yet, Toll Group has had limited success in encouraging other organisations to adopt their radically inclusive approach to employment, and is looking for support to help advocate the employment of ex-prisoners to other organisations.
With the above context and the actual case (Toll Group and the Second Step program) in mind, your task is to draw on the two conflict paradigms (radical structuralism and radical humanism) and at least one other concept from weeks 6 through to 11 of the course), to consider Toll Group’s program and develop a report that can be used as a basis to advocate the employment of ex-prisoners to other organizations.
Assessment details Your advocacy report must contain the following: Reflect on the case, and draw on the paradigms of Radical Structuralism and Radical Humanism to help articulate a rationale for other businesses to follow in Toll Group’s footsteps. A subject heading for this section of your report might be, “Second chance” employment programs:
A theoretically informed rationale. Anticipate possible arguments or concerns against the hiring of ex-prisoners, from the perspective of Functionalism. Articulate these concerns, and then counter these arguments, by drawing on Radical Structuralism and Radical Humanism.
You must also draw on at least one other theoretical concept introduced to you between Weeks 6 to 11 of the course. A subject heading for this section of your report might be, Countering functionalist arguments
. Please see here for a list of some of the theories / concepts you might choose fromDownload Please see here for a list of some of the theories / concepts you might choose from.
Some theorists suggest that paradigms are incommensurable – this means we can never unite or “blend” these paradigms because their underlying assumptions about society and reality are fundamentally incompatible. Do you think Toll Group succeeds in blending these paradigms? If yes, why? If no, why not? A subject heading for this section of your report might be, Blending paradigms:
possibilities and problems.
Please see pages 24-25 of Burrell and Morgan (1979/2016), Sociological Paradigms and Organisational Analysis.
This section contains Burrell and Morgan’s thoughts on whether “inter-paradigm journeys” are possible. Draw on the radical structuralist and radical humanist perspectives, and at least one other theoretical concept from Weeks 6 to 11, to articulate a set (four to five) of principles that other organisations might adopt to develop their own “Second Step” program. Principles are fundamental, guiding rules for action. For example, a principle informed by radical humanism, might be: “Human beings are intrinsically worthy of emancipation; having served their time in prison, they deserve a “second chance”.
A decision-making principle informed by radical structuralism might be: “Organisations must act in the interests of workers; the workforce needs to be accepting of ex-prisoner colleagues, for an employment program to succeed”. Please do not use these principles. A subject heading for this section of your report might be, “Second chance” employment programs:
Reflect on the vertical axis in the Burrell and Morgan typology (the order/regulation and conflict/radical change axis) and at least one other theoretical concept from weeks 6 to 11 of the course. What has this case, the two conflict paradigms, and your chosen theoretical concept/s helped you to understand about organizations and society, that you would otherwise not have understood or seen? A subject heading for this section of your report might be, Reflections on the value of the course theory (350 words). This suggests the overall structure of your case study might look as follows:
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