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Prisoners’ Families’ Research: Developments, Debates and Directions

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Book chapter

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Lanskey, Caroline 
Markson, Lucy 
Souza, Karen 
Loesel, F 


After many years of relative obscurity, research on prisoners’ families has gained significant momentum. It has expanded from case-oriented descriptive analyses of family experiences to longitudinal studies of child and family development and even macro analyses of the effects on communities in societies of mass incarceration. Now the field engages multi-disciplinary and international interest although it arguably still remains on the periphery of mainstream criminological, psychological and sociological research agendas. This chapter discusses developments in prisoners’ families’ research and its positioning in academia and practice. It does not aim to provide an all-encompassing review of the literature rather it will offer some reflections on how and why the field has developed as it has and on its future directions. The chapter is divided into three parts. The first discusses reasons for the historically small body of research on prisoners’ families and for the growth in research interest over the past two decades. The second analyses patterns and shifts in the focus of research studies and considers how the field has been shaped by intersecting disciplinary interests of psychology, sociology, criminology and socio-legal studies. The final part reflects on substantive and ethical issues that are likely to shape the direction of prisoners’ families’ research in the future.



Prisoners’ Families’ Research: Developments, Debates and Directions


Social Science

Is Part Of

The Palgrave Handbook of Prison and the Family

Book type


Palgrave Macmillan




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