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Title: Adaptation, moral community and power in a prison for men convicted of sex offences
Author: Ievins, Alice Mary Anna Natalia
ISNI:       0000 0004 7228 7522
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis explores the experiences of imprisonment of men held in HMP Stafford, an English medium-security prison for men convicted of sexual offences. Sex offenders constitute a significant proportion of the prison population – almost one in five sentenced adult men have been convicted of a sex offence – but they have been consistently overlooked by prison researchers. In this thesis, I redress this imbalance by exploring the experiences of a hitherto overlooked group, and generate some theoretical insights which will be of relevance to wider studies of imprisonment. The thesis is based on an in-depth ethnographic study conducted over a five-month period. It included 42 long semi-structured interviews with prisoners, 12 shorter semi-structured interviews with prison officers, and extended periods of participant observation of day-to-day life in the prison. It focuses on three areas which were of particular salience to these men, all of which have been explored in detail in existing studies of mainstream imprisonment: first, the ways in which they adapted to their sentence; second, the sorts of social and moral communities they formed amongst themselves; and third, the relationships they formed with staff and the way the prison’s power operated on them. All three of these areas – adaptation, moral community and power – were inflected by two issues of even greater significance: the fact that they were serving sentences for sexual offences, and their resulting social identities as ‘sex offenders’. By drawing attention to this issue, I hope to move on from the conventional mode of understanding the prison, as a disciplinary institution structured solely by power, to one which takes more seriously the moral functions and effects of the prison as a condemnatory institution.
Supervisor: Crewe, Ben Sponsor: Dawes Trust
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Prison ; sex offenders ; power ; sexuality