Emotions in prison: an exploration of space, emotion regulation and expression
University of Cambridge
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
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Laws, B. (2018). Emotions in prison: an exploration of space, emotion regulation and expression (Doctoral thesis). https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.28033
Emotions remain notably underexplored in both criminology and prisons research. This thesis sets out to address this problem by centralizing the importance of emotions in prison: especially the way prisoners express and regulate their affective states. To collect the data, 25 male and 25 female prisoners were ‘shadowed’, observed and interviewed across two prisons (HMP Send and HMP Ranby). Based on these findings, this thesis describes the emotional world of prisoners and their various ‘affective’ strategies. The three substantive chapters reveal the textured layers and various emotional states experienced by prisoners: first, at the level of the self (psychological); second, as existing between groups (social emotions); and, third, in relation to the physical environment (spatial). An individual substantive chapter is dedicated to each of these three levels of analysis. A primary finding was the prevalence of a wide range of ‘emotion management’ strategies among prisoners. One such strategy was emotion suppression, which was extremely salient among both men and women. While this emotion suppression was, in part, a product of pre-prison experiences it was also strongly influenced by institutional practices. Importantly, there was a strong correlation between prisoners who suppressed emotions and who were subsequently involved in violence (towards others, or inflicted upon themselves). A second key finding was the wide range of emotions that exist within, and are shaped by, different prison spaces—previous accounts have described prison as emotionally sterile, or characterised by anxiety and fear but this study develops the idea that prisons have an ‘emotional geography’ or affective ‘map’. The study findings have implications for the ‘emotional survivability’ of our prisons; the need to open legitimate channels for emotional expression; and designing prisoners that are supportive, safe and secure establishments for prisoners to live in.
Prisons, Emotions, Pains of imprisonment, Carceral geography, emotional geography, emotional suppression
This project was supported by an ESRC PhD studentship.
This record's DOI: https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.28033
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