In seeking to make sense of the role of intensive family support in the governance of anti-social behaviour, this paper focuses analytical attention on one case study project, the Family Support Service. It draws on interview material from five women whose experiences were tracked in repeat interviews over an 18-month period. The Family Support Service entailed intense surveillance and supervision of marginalised populations in domestic private spaces and did, therefore, have controlling and disciplinary qualities, particularly with regard to the families living in ‘core’ residential accommodation. Yet, in spite of this, the Family Support Service also contained a significant social welfare ethos based on finding long-term sustainable solutions to individuals’ problems, not least security of housing and income. This paper argues that while we must confront the worrying and disconcerting aspects of intensive family support, the intervention might be conducive to helping disadvantaged and troubled families access better lives. There is a need for further research, however, about how to achieve less punitive types of family intervention and, therefore, how progressive change for vulnerable families might be generated.
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