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The role of social factors in shaping the use of time and space amongst ex-offenders*

Dr. Dana Segev

Time-space budget (TBS) is a particularly useful research methods for investigating the relationship between the environment and an individual’s behaviours and choices (Wikström, Treiber, & Hardie, 2011). It involves a collection of data about how individuals spend their time, where and with whom, thereby uncovering patterns of behaviours of groups of people across locations (Gershuny, 1989). Time remains an invariant unit of analysis, making this method excellent for comparative analysis.

TSB had scarcely been used in criminological research (although see, Farrall et al., 2014; Wikström et al., 2010) and particularly absent is the use of TSB across countries, to uncover choices and behaviours of ex-offenders (Segev 2020; Segev 2019). Segev’s (2019) cross-national study into desistance of crime utilised TSB to unveil how behaviours (activities) of ex-offenders who had a long criminal career compared between England and Israel. The key aim was to explore the role of macro factors in shaping the pathways out of crime for participants in the study.

The findings provided insight into the social lives of participants and how cultural aspects in each country ‘translated’ into social factors which shaped the day-to-day of crime avoidance. There were interesting differences and similarities between the countries and a detailed description of the analysis can be found here or the link below.

In her conclusion, Segev (2019; 2020) highlights that English participants spent more time in restful activities and sleeping, as well as more time in home settings than Israeli participants, a difference which was statistically significant. In contrast, Israeli participants spent more time working and outdoors. This difference is partly explained by the social context around employment with a criminal conviction in each country and the rates of Israeli participants who were employed, compared with English participants (click here or on the related opinion piece below for more details). That said, regardless of employment status or financial conditions, Israelis showed a clear tendency of spending more time outdoors and socialising, while English participants preferred to stay in home settings to avoid recidivism. For Israelis, socialising outdoors was a way to overcome obstacles related to reoffending and avoiding boredom, while English participants sought to overcome these same obstacles by spending time in home settings and socialising primarily with family or romantic partners.

Another key finding that emerged was that time spent with family in Israel was also associated with the Jewish tradition of Shabbat dinners and participants reported undertaking other religious activities in conjunction with the Shabbat (Segev, 2019). Religious traditions in Israel operated at a broader social level and shaped the use of time and space amongst Israeli participants. Interestingly, religious traditions encouraged certain behaviours, regardless of participants’ level of religiosity or whether they ascribed to religious customs.

Studies into the role of religion in the cessation of offending tend to research the impact of religion at the individual level and how such held beliefs supports individual’s process of change. Yet, less attention has been given to the over-arching impact of religious traditions and beliefs on the organisation, choices and behaviours of groups of people. Segev’s (2019; 2020) study illustrates how religion has a macro over-arching impact which shaped time use and dispositions of Israeli participants, even amongst those who did not ascribe to religious beliefs and traditions.

For more findings and deeper discussion on the topics above click here:

  • Farrall, S., Hunter, B., Sharpe, G., et al. (2014) Criminal Careers in Transition: The Social Context of Desistance from Crime, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Gershuny, J. (1989) Time Budgets as Social Indicators. Journal of Public Policy 9: 419– 424.

  • Segev D (2019) Comparing the Temporal and Spatial Dynamics of Desistance in England and Israel. In: Farrall S (ed) The Architecture of Desistance. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

  • Segev D (2020) Desistance and Societies in Comparative Perspective. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

* Drawn from Segev D (2019) Comparing the Temporal and Spatial Dynamics of Desistance in England and Israel. In: Farrall S (ed) The Architecture of Desistance. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.


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