Doing Prison Work  book cover
1st Edition

Doing Prison Work

ISBN 9781843924432
Published January 11, 2013 by Willan
304 Pages

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Book Description

This book provides a much-needed sociological account of the social world of the English prison officer, making an original contribution to our understanding of the inner life of prisons in general and the working lives of prison officers in particular. As well as revealing how the job of the prison officer - and of the prison itself - is accomplished on a day-to-day basis, the book explores not only what prison officers do but also how they feel about their work.

In focusing on how prison officers feel about their work this book makes a number of interesting revelations - about the essentially domestic nature of much of the work they do, about the degree of emotional labour invested in it and about the performance nature of many of the day-to-day interactions between officers and prisoners. Finally, the book follows the prison officer home after work, showing how the prison can spill over into their home lives and family relationships.

Based on extensive ethnographic fieldwork in different types of prisons (including interviews with prison officers' wives and children as well as prison officers themselves), this book will be essential reading for all those with an interest in how prisons and organisations more generally operate in practice.

Table of Contents

Introduction  1. Setting the scene: the research in context  2. Research methods  3. Learning the rules, managing feelings: becoming a prison officer  4. Them and us? How officers see prisoners  5. Emotion and performance: the presentation of self in prisons  6. When things go wrong: suicide and conflict  7. How prison officers see their work, themselves and each other  8. Bringing it all back home? Stories of husbands and wives  9. Conclusions: doing prison work

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Elaine Crawley is Senior Lecturer in Criminology at the University of Salford.


'This is a powerful and valuable book that explores the complex and challenging work carried out by prison officers, recognising their skill, ability and their frustrations. It is brave in its exploration of the darker sides of prison officer culture and compassionate in its understanding of the effect this work has on officers and their families. This book is an important addition to the current literature and will be of great appeal to everyone working in prisons.' − Jamie Bennett in Prison Service Journal

'An informative and often fascinating account of the social world of the English prison officer.' − Ben Clark, HM Inspectorate of Probation

'This book arguably provides the reader with the first contemporary sociological account of the role of the prison officer since Morrisâ?? classic study of Pentonville prison in 1958 (Morris and Morris 1963). It fills a vacuum in the literature on the role and culture of prison officers and locates the study of six public-sector male prisons in England and Wales... This book is a major contribution to our sociological understanding of the role of the contemporary prison officer... In sum, it is a very welcome addition to the literature on prison officers and their work, and will prove to be a valuable resource for further research by students, academics and practitioners.' Keith Carter, University College Chester in The British Journal of Criminology