Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: How incarcerated undergraduates use higher education to make sense of their lives
Author: McDowell, Lila
ISNI:       0000 0003 8396 0586
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2012
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Full text unavailable from EThOS. Please try the link below.
Access from Institution:
With over 1.5 million adults incarcerated each day in the United States, the development of successful criminal rehabilitation has now become imperative (Public Safety Performance Project, 2010). Higher education has emerged as a potential ‘solution’, with many undergraduate programmes for prisoners boasting lower rates of recidivism than any other rehabilitative programming available. This doctoral research is a mixed methods investigation of Hudson Link for Higher Education in Prison, an undergraduate degree programme operating at a maximum-security correctional facility in the New York State. While most work in the field of prison education asks whether or not participation reduces recidivism, my research set out to discover how students engage with the processes of education – how they use the tools offered by membership in the social world of the prison college to reframe their understanding of their own experiences, what it means for their identities to be college students in the larger context of the prison, and how education changes their day-to-day lives and their plans for the future. My understanding is informed primarily by student writing data, generated through the facilitation of autobiographical writing workshops with two groups of men from the programme. Over the course of two ten-week sessions, students in these workshops constructed narratives describing their experiences in education both before and during their prison terms. These narratives define education as experiences of learning – allowing for inclusion of those lessons taught by the family unit and/or “in the street” – rather than just those activities involving school. The workshop process allowed me to build and maintain a significant degree of participant trust, as well as to ask for more clarification and detail as necessary in order to build a rich and thorough understanding of their stories and experiences. This understanding was also supported by six months’ worth of ethnographic and participant observation data, and a quantitative profile of every student Hudson Link has served during its twelve years in operation. Data analysis using a cultural-historical framework reveals that these students make sense of their lives using tools offered to them by the figured world of the prison college. Reinterpreting past experiences allows them to come to terms with their lives before prison. Identity reconstruction is achieved through guided authoring of personal change narratives, incorporation of education into the sense of self, and discoursal practices of academic English. These constructions of identity are used to reclaim the sense of agency that prison is designed to take away, which in turn influences student and graduate behaviour.
Supervisor: Ellis, Viv ; Bosworth, Mary Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Sociocultural and activity theory ; Education ; Criminology ? Crime,rehabilitation and desistance ; prison education ; higher education ; sociocultural research