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50 How. J. Crim. Just. 1 (2011)

handle is hein.journals/hjcj50 and id is 1 raw text is: 



The Howard journal Vol 50 No 1. February 2011 DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2311.2010.00645.x
ISSN 0265-5527, pp. 1-16




       Understanding Violence in the

    'Society of Captives': Sykes Meets

                  Bourdieu in Prison


                          ANKE NEUBER
           Senior Research Fellow, University of Kassel, Germany


Abstract: Looking at violence in prison from a sociological perspective, Sykes's Society
of Captives remains a classic in penology. Influenced by structural-functionalism, he
describes the great influence of the prison structure on its inmates and emphasises the
importance of violence for the stabilisation of the prison social order This article will
re-examine Sykes's assumptions about the relationship between structure and action,
referring to Bourdieu and a biographical approach using a case example from a
qualitative longitudinal study with male inmates in young offenders' institutions in
Germany. It concludes by asking how the meaning of violence in prison changes, looked at
from these different theoretical perspectives.

Keywords:  violence; prison; structural functionalism; habitus; biography




Classical, as well as current, prison studies emphasise the major importance
of  violence or the  threat of violence (Bereswill  1999, 2001,  2002b;
Butler 2008;  Edgar and  O'Donnell  1998; Edgar, O'Donnell  and  Martin
2003;   Kersten  and   von  Wolffersdorff-Ehlert  1980;  Neuber   2009;
Sim  1994; Sykes 1958/1999). Looking  at the sociological explanations for
this phenomenon one will find considerable continuity across three
theoretical models   (cf. Grapendaal   1990):  The  deprivation  model
(for example, McCorkle  and  Korn  1954; Sykes 1958/1999), the importa-
tion model   (Giallombardo  1966;  Irwin and  Cressey  1962; Ward   and
Kassebaum 1965) and the integration model (for example, Thomas
and  Petersen 1977; Thomas,  Petersen and Zingraff 1978). They deal with
the  question of why  violent behaviour exists in the prison subculture.
Does  it grow out of the structure of the closed institution (as assumed
in the deprivation  model) or  is the inmates' readiness to use violence
imported  from the outside world (as in the importation model)? It becomes
apparent  that in research, the reasons for violence in prison are neither
seen  solely on the part of the institution nor on the part of the subject.
This  exclusiveness was abrogated  in the integration model by  relating

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0  2010 The Author
The Howard Journal of CriminalJustice © 2010 The Howard League and Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4 2DQ UK

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