Technical Rationality/Reflection Action and Professionalization
Part I Analyses the similarities between technical rationality and reflection in action, and logical positivism and interpretive epistemologies. Discuss evidences of technical rationality and reflection in action in the criminal justice system.
Technical rationality and reflection are two concepts that find application in the criminal justice system. Lee and Gailey (2007) explained that technical rationality comprises an encompassing cultural orientation that applies by promoting the accomplishment of narrow and technical goals in an economical and efficient manner. As such, the application of technical rationality does not consider ethical concerns arising in situations because correct actions are those based on rules. Technical rationality also objectifies individuals as part of labor cost and the operating or working environment as part of the resources for exploitation. In practice, technical rationality involves routine work giving little room for ethical considerations.
In the criminal justice system, technical rationality applies through the establishment of a set of rules of conduct for the different professionals working within the criminal justice system. In the case of law enforcement authorities, the arrest of criminals involves a process that includes the reading of the Miranda rights of the arrestee. Generally, there should be an arrest warrant to be shown to the person being arrested except in specific circumstances such as accosting criminals in the midst of committing or immediate after committing a crime. In the handling of complaints filed in court, payment of fees accompanies the lodging of the supporting documents. After the receipt of complaints, docket number and court branch assignment follows. In the case of affidavits, parties are given a particular period within which to file their counter-affidavits. There is also a limit in the period for filing appeals. Technical rationality occurs in the form of general and specific rules as the standards of professional practice in the criminal justice. The accomplishment of tasks is determined by the extent that these rules have been followed without incurring unnecessary costs and in an efficient manner. Since rules govern the completion of work, these do not allow much room for the professional worker to engage in reflection.
However, not all circumstances fit within the bounds of rules. In practice, there could be unexpected occurrences that require the criminal justice professional to make on-the-spot decisions. In these circumstances, reflection in action becomes important. Schon (1987) described reflection in action as the capacity and propensity of professionals to employ reflection in addressing problems arising in action while conducting their tasks in the workplace. In application, professionals utilizing reflection deal with the surprises and uncertainties arising as they perform their tasks. In doing so, they need to rely on their previous experiences of similar situations, evaluate the current condition, explore alternatives, and in some cases, even conduct experiments. In the criminal justice system, law enforcement authorities sometimes make judgments during in arresting individuals. Law enforcement authorities need to have reasonable ground for arresting individuals without a warrant and reflection is needed to determine whether the actions or events involving the individual constitute a crime. In the handling of cases, lawyers reflect on the merits of cases in advising their clients and judges have to consider the proper direction to give to juries in cases that involve new and complex issues.
Part II Describe the criminal justice profession quest for professionalization and evaluate how certain epistemological paradigms were emphasized in the discipline's process to professionalize the field. Provide a timeline that captures this process. How has this process affected you and your work as criminal justice professional?
The development of the criminal justice profession coincides with the development of the criminal justice system corresponding to shifts in epistemological paradigms. The classical paradigm applied in the criminal justice system through the dominance of the concepts of free will and rational choice that support the importance of the social contract. Classical thought propounds that the role of criminal justice professionals is the facilitation of the maintenance of the social contract. Since individuals exercise free will resulting to the commission of actions detrimental to others. However, since individuals are also rational, they recognize the need for membership in a community through a social contract to abide by certain rules that promote the common good. (Armstead & Johnson, 2007) The classical paradigm constituted the foundation of the criminal justice system and the criminal justice profession. Standards of professional action in the criminal justice system involved the task to guard compliance with the social contract and punish infractions based on the expectations accompanying the contract.
There were a number of challenges faced by the classical paradigm such as the occurrence of crimes even with the application of the social contract. The neoclassical paradigm emerged to address areas that the classical thought failed to explain. The neoclassical paradigm provides that although individuals exercise free will and rational thought, there are certain crimes deemed beyond the control of individuals such as age or mental disabilities. As such, this brought about the concepts of mitigating circumstances and individual justice. In practice, these concepts mean that in the operation of the criminal justice system, recognition of differences in the manner that individuals are related to a crime by looking at the circumstances surrounding the commission of a crime are paramount. (Armstead & Johnson, 2007) Criminal justice professionals serve the role of looking into crimes and circumstances relating individuals to the crime as different occurrences. Standards of professional practice in the criminal justice system involve knowledge and skills in investigating different crimes and criminals.
Following the neoclassical thought, the idea of free will was questioned by the positivist school, which propounded the thought that crime finds explanation from human nature instead of free will. As such, the positivist school explained that people who have not been able to truly evolve to form part of the civilized state cause crimes, especially the serious crimes. In addition, physical and/or mental defects of individuals explain the propensity of these people to commit crimes. (Armstead & Johnson, 2007) Under this school of thought, criminal justice professionals play the role of guarding against the commission of crimes by considering human nature as the criteria for analyzing the commission of crimes, identifying preventive measures, and developing intervention programs.
Modern schools of thought have also emerged that promote professional paradigms such as technical rationality (Lee & Gailey, 2007) and reflective practice (Schon, 1987). Technical rationality emerged as an earlier paradigm because of the need to develop stability in the criminal justice system, thus the need for rules and routine actions. However, with the development of a more or less stable criminal justice system, reflective practice emerged as a new paradigm that guides criminal justice professionals in dealing with uncertainties and risks in the actual conduct of work.
The trends in the professionalization of the criminal justice profession has affected the work of professionals by providing a manner of understanding the rationale and importance of their roles in the criminal justice system together with room for rational decision-making in the field given uncertainties or risks.
Armstead, J. & Johnson, T. (2007). The theory of the American criminal justice system. Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, 32(2), 8-10.
Lee, M. T. & Gailey, J. A. (2007). Who Is to Blame for Deviance in Organizations? The Role of Scholarly Worldviews. Sociology Compass, 1(2), 536–551.
Schön, D. (1987). Educating the reflective practitioner: Toward a new design for teaching and learning in the professions. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
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