Power,discourse and resistance : an analysis of the Strangeways prison riot
This thesis provides a detailed sociological analysis of the prison riot at Strangeways in April 1990. It is argued that previous explanations of prison unrest have, in the main, paid insufficient attention to fundamental issues in social theory, which concern specifying how such matters as human agency, subjectivity and day-today encounters are related to more durable structures of constraint, domination and the unequal distribution of resources in society. The first part of the thesis draws on a wide range of literatures to develop an interpretative framework that can account for prison disorder, and the second part applies this approach to Strangeways. In the thesis the sociology of imprisonment is discussed through an analytical division between the internal dynamics within a particular institution and the external functions of imprisonment. Through this discussion a perspective on power is developed which can both comprehend the diversity of micro-levels of action and how such practices are related to broader modes of regulation, transformation and symbolic communication. There then follows a critical discussion of various theoretical perspectives advanced to explain disorder (disorganisation, deprivation, and resource mobilisation) and an examination of how they have been applied in the prison setting. Having identified the main limitations of each of these approaches the methodological approach is set out. The second part of the thesis applies this interpretative framework. This narrative begins with a general account of imprisonment in England and Wales, providing the historical and contextual setting which informs the subsequent institutional portrait of the specific control strategies pursued at Strangeways over an extended period of time. The following chapter provides a detailed re-examination of the Strangeways riot which draws on interview data and documentary analysis. The final chapter elaborates on the analytical depth which this perspective represents, in comparison to the official inquiry's interpretation, which is widely hailed as the definitive, liberal statement on the causes of prison unrest.