Task: Produce an essay
Critically discuss the intersectionality of race, gender, age and class in the case study.
Word limit: 1500 words
In the following pages, you will find:
learning outcomes addressed by this assignment
student notes for this assignment, including the case study
suggestions of relevant material from the module
a checklist to ensure you have done everything required for this assignment.
The module learning outcomes assessed by TMA 02 are as follows:
Knowledge and understanding
A systematic and critical understanding of current debates and new insights in theory and practice in counselling and forensic psychology.
A systematic and critical understanding of the types of evidence and research methods used in counselling and forensic psychology.
A critical understanding of how psychological theories and research are applied in practical and professional contexts in counselling and forensic psychology.
An awareness of the importance of socio-cultural factors with respect to diversity and difference in counselling and forensic psychology.
Construct arguments with appropriate use of relevant concepts, theories and evidence.
Identify and select evidence from a variety of sources.
Interpret, analyse and critically evaluate the contributions of different kinds of evidence, recognising the possible limitations of sources.
Apply concepts and theories to inform understanding of practice in counselling and forensic psychology.
Select, summarise, synthesise and appropriately reference information from different sources, including primary texts and secondary sources.
Present written material in a coherently organised form, with developed arguments and information in logical sequence, and communicated effectively in a variety of forms.
Develop both technical and non-technical skills, including the use of information technology to search for and access electronic resources, and to process, prepare and present information.
Practical and/or professional skills
Communicate knowledge and/or findings in an appropriate way for particular audiences and present arguable and reasoned conclusions.
Employ evidence based and logical reasoning to examine practical, theoretical and ethical issues, particularly in relation to issues concerning practice in counselling and forensic psychology.
Yusuf is a 25-year-old Asian male from Bradford. He is currently serving a four-year sentence for robbery with knife injury.
Demographics and family history
Yusuf’s grandparents on both sides came to the UK from Pakistan. He has one brother who is three years older than him. His brother was always considered to be the clever son and Yusuf was considered to be the mischievous son. When Yusuf and his brother were growing up, Yusuf’s father worked on a casual basis as a painter and decorator. He was periodically unable to work due to back problems so had long periods of unemployment. Yusuf’s mother suffered with frequent ill health due to problems relating to depression. She sporadically worked as a cleaner in the primary school which Yusuf and his brother attended. His biological parents divorced when he was 13 years old. Yusuf has had no contact with his biological father since the divorce. There are on record five reports of domestic disturbances between Yusuf’s mother and biological father prior to their separation. Police records suggest that Yusuf’s father had been drinking when the police attended these disturbances.
Yusuf’s mother remarried. His step-father is a white British male who works as a cab driver for Uber. Since Yusuf’s first prison sentence at age 15 (in a young offender institute), he has only had extremely limited contact with his mother and step-father.
Neither Yusuf’s biological parents nor his step-father have a criminal record.
His brother is now a GP and lives in London with his wife and rarely comes back to visit. Yusuf is single and has no children.
Prior to his prison sentence, Yusuf obtained occasional work as a labourer, working cash in hand on a day-rate basis. He admits to having handled stolen goods as a way to get by. Until his prison sentence, Yusuf lived in a bedsit on the tenth floor of a twelve-floor tower block. He did not receive DSS (government benefits) or any housing benefit.
Yusuf only has a few close friends despite being outgoing and socialising in the pub. He is heterosexual and has had frequent sexual relationships with women but these rarely last more than a few nights/dates. Yusuf is not a regular drug user, but prior to being in prison he made occasional recreational use of cocaine at weekends.
Violence and criminal activity
Yusuf’s violence tends to be associated with loss of temper rather than with drug or alcohol use. He has been known to use violence instrumentally in the past. He obtained a number of Governor’s reports when serving his last sentence in prison for violence towards other prisoners and, on one occasion, towards a member of staff in the education block. He therefore obtained a reputation for bullying behaviour. He has undergone anger management training while in prison. Yusuf is known to have been involved in gangs in the past but his current gang-related status is uncertain.
Previous recorded criminal activity
Yusuf has two prior convictions for actual bodily harm (at 15 and 20 years old) and one for robbery (at 24 years old). He has previously served nine months in a young offender institution and six months in a category C prison.
Mental health and education
Yusuf has no known mental health diagnosis as an adult, although as a child he was referred for psychological assessment to an educational psychologist. He was assessed as being moderately dyslexic. Yusuf has three GCSEs in home economics, maths and woodwork. School reports suggest that Yusuf was a frequent truant and displayed early violent behaviour (in playground incidents). He was never formally excluded from school.
Current offence – robbery
Yusuf Khan is currently serving a four-year sentence for robbery in HM Prison Leeds, and is less than one year into his sentence. Yusuf armed himself with a kitchen knife and slashed at the arm of a shop proprietor before stealing the contents of the till and running to a waiting getaway car.
One of the prison psychologists has chatted briefly with Yusuf (for less than ten minutes). He reports that Yusuf is sneering about the role of psychology/therapy and what it might be able to offer him. He is dismissive of any suggestion that he might be suffering from any sort of mental health difficulty.
Focus of the assignment
TMA 02 is intended to assess your ability to critically apply what you know about the relevant socio-cultural factors of race, gender, age and class, and the ways they intersect with each other, to a particular case study.
You can tackle this question in a variety of ways – there is no one correct approach. For example, some students may choose to deal with the four socio-cultural factors one after the other, and then discuss the ways how these factors intersect with each other (intersectionality) in a separate section. A different approach would be to weave in intersectionality issues where appropriate throughout the essay when discussing the different socio-cultural factors. Both of these approaches could be equally successful, and you should consider how you plan to accommodate the different aspects of the assignment task when choosing the structure of your assignment.
Regardless of the structure chosen, it is important that you attempt to cover both the socio-cultural factors of race, gender, age and class and the ways they intersect with each other in the presented case study.
The main command word used in the essay title is ‘critically discuss’. This means that you should not just describe the socio-cultural factors and their intersection, but your essay should also contain critical evaluation of the research and theories introduced. You can achieve that by showing an awareness of the strengths and weaknesses of the research that you introduce in your essay, or by questioning assumptions presented in the material.
Tips for writing
You are asked for this assignment to identify and select those theories and research from Block 2 that are relevant to his case. It is important to note that the writing should be focused on the case provided (Yusuf), and how the socio-cultural factors may play out and intersect in this case, rather than the socio-cultural factors in general.
Try to signpost to the reader in your introduction section how you are going to tackle the assignment. Also remember to signpost where you are up to at various points throughout your writing so that the reader is clear on what arguments you are making as your assignment progresses.
Given the word limit (1500 words) it is pivotal that you stay tightly focused on the assignment task and write concisely – these are key academic skills for this assignment.
While you are expected to consider all four factors covered in Block 2 (and intersectionality) to some degree, you should prioritise (and spend more word count) on the factor/s that seem most relevant/impactful for this case (and less on others). Equally, when discussing each socio-cultural factor, you are not expected to cover all the theories/research introduced in the module material. You should rather select and prioritise the aspects within each factor that you see as most relevant for this specific case (and leave others out – it might be better to cover fewer points in depth, than to try to squeeze in as many aspects as possible). It is definitely a good idea to produce an essay plan before writing the essay as this helps to stay focused. Remember that you are asked to write an essay for this assignment (so don’t use bullet points or sub-headers as you might for a report).
You are expected to consider all four socio-cultural factors that you covered in this block in your assignment, although you may focus more effort on the ones you see as being more relevant to the case of Yusuf. You can draw material from both the book chapters and the VLE weeks. It is a good idea to read through the case study of Yusuf before re-visiting the module materials, noting down any relevant elements to the case study, before organising these into the arguments you will present in your essay.
You will find it helpful to review the Block 2 introduction, especially the sections on Mad or bad identities and Intersectionality. You may also find it useful to review the Mad or bad identity animation and the associated activity – ‘Activity 3 Search for literature on factors shaping mad or bad identities’ – in which you looked for some relevant research to explore how socio-cultural factors might impact on individuals.
At this point you may have made some useful notes on research you found that might be relevant to the current case study.
Material on race
You may wish to consider issues raised in Chapter 5 ‘Race’ (pages 65–79, from Mad or Bad? A Critical Approach to Counselling and Forensic Psychology) with regard to Yusuf’s ethnic origin and the representation of that within both the criminal justice and mental health systems. The sections on ‘Race and mental health’ and ‘Race and the criminal justice system’ will also be useful in critically discussing the role of race.
From the VLE Week 7, Section 3 Race in mental health and the criminal justice system contains some useful information about how race as a socio-cultural factor may impact on Yusuf. Activity 2 ‘Explanations for ethnic inequalities’ might also help you to think about the reasons for inequalities in the mental health and criminal justice systems which you could apply to the case. The VLE Section 4.1 Implicit or unconscious biases may be helpful in considering the ways Yusuf has been treated in different systems (in school, by the police and in the criminal justice system).
Material on gender
From Chapter 6 ‘Gender’ (pages 81–94, from Mad or Bad? A Critical Approach to Counselling and Forensic Psychology) you will be able to extract some relevant information from ‘Representations of gender and criminality’ and ‘Gender mental health and “victimhood” in the criminal justice system’ in order to consider how gender may impact on Yusuf. In so doing you may wish to consider Yusuf’s experience as a victim as well as a perpetrator.
Material on age
With regard to age, from Chapter 7 ‘Age’ (pages 95–108, from Mad or Bad? A Critical Approach to Counselling and Forensic Psychology) you may want to consider the section ‘Age-related vulnerabilities to crime’ in considering how age-related factors may have impacted on Yusuf. The section titled ‘Age-related considerations for assessment, formulation and treatment’ can be useful in considering why Yusuf might have felt that the treatment services on offer might not be helpful for him.
From the VLE Week 9, Section 4 Youth and adolescence may help you to think about the onset of Yusuf’s offending and how age may be a factor in that. You know about Yusuf’s gang involvement and lifestyle and so Section 5 Teen gangs will be useful. In ‘Activity 4 Ex-gang members’, you considered Darren’s case and this should have prepared you for considering gang and age-relevant aspects in the case of Yusuf.
Material on class
With regard to the socio-cultural factor of class you may wish to consider Yusuf’s class position. The section titled ‘What is social class?’ from Chapter 8 ‘Class’ (pages 109–122, of Mad or Bad? A Critical Approach to Counselling and Forensic Psychology) will remind you to consider economic capital, social capital and cultural capital (Bordieu, 2002). The section ‘Social class and crime’ contains relevant critical considerations about how class might apply to Yusuf’s case. The section on ‘Social class and mental health treatment’ including the Information box 8.1 ‘Social class worldview model’ will help you to consider how Yusuf might have felt about seeking help for his problems.
From the VLE Week 10 the section The impact of social context on mental health contains useful references to class–based dispositions that might mismatch with traditional mental health services. Likewise the content of ‘Activity 1 A new mental health initiative for Steve’ might help you to consider why Yusuf seems to prefer to keep his problems to himself.
You may also wish to consider how the austerity ailments, covered on the VLE in Austerity and mental health might impact on Yusuf.
Have I: Yes No. Where can I look for guidance?
Made sure I understand the question? Look at Getting started in ‘Social Sciences Assessment Information’. See also Understanding the question in ‘Skills for OU Study’.
Read all the guidance notes for this assignment? Carefully read through the student notes that accompany your assignment to check that you have followed all the advice and instructions.
Actively studied the relevant module material and anything else to which I’ve been directed? See the booklets Reading and Taking Notes and Thinking Critically.
Reflected on my learning, including feedback received on earlier assignments, in order to improve my skills? See Section 2, ‘Active learning’ and Section 4, ‘Being reflective’ of the booklet Develop Effective Study Strategies. See also Learning from feedback in ‘Skills for OU Study’.
Thought about how best to structure my answer and questions of style and language?
Further advice on structuring answers is available in the relevant sections in ‘Social Sciences Assessment Information’. See, for example, Skill: Essay writing.
For questions relating to style and language, see the section in ‘Social Sciences Assessment Information’. See also Developing academic English, Presentation and language and Writing for university in ‘Skills for OU Study’; and Section 7 ‘Choosing a writing style’ and Section 8 ‘Improving your written English’ of the booklet Preparing Assignments.
Written in my own words? Guidance on writing in your own words is available in the sections on Skill: Understanding plagiarism and Skill: Writing in your own words in ‘Social Sciences Assessment Information’.
Where necessary, used evidence to back up my arguments, and referenced correctly?
Advice on using evidence to support your arguments is available in the section on Selecting your examples’ in ‘Social Sciences Assessment Information’. See also Gathering your materials in ‘Skills for OU Study’.
Guidance on referencing is available in the section on Referencing in ‘Social Sciences Assessment Information’.
Checked my word count? The guidance notes tell you the word limit for each part of the TMA. An answer that is shorter than the word length by more than 10% is likely to be too short to have fully answered the question. An answer that exceeds the word limit by more than 10% may be penalised. For further information see the section on Word length in ‘Social Sciences Assessment Information’.
Written the word count at the end of my TMA? Check the word count and write that figure clearly at the end of each part of the assignment.
Set out my assignment properly? See Section 3.4, ‘Conventions for presenting written work’ in your module’s ‘Assessment Guidance’, which you will find under ‘Assessment’ on the module website.
Completed all of the TMA? Read through these assignment notes carefully to check that you have completed all the necessary tasks.
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