Honour and respect in Danish prisons: Contesting ‘cognitive distortions’ in cognitive-behavioural programmes

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Laws, B 

© 2016, © The Author(s) 2016. Using empirical data from prison-based cognitive-behavioural programmes, this article considers how prisoners’ subcultural capital shapes their responses to demands for ‘cognitive self-change’. We argue that accounts of ‘respect’ in the prior literature fail to capture how prisoners react to these programmes, and that a discussion of honour (and what we term ‘respect plus’) needs to be incorporated. The empirical material derives from four different cognitive-behavioural programme setups in three Danish prisons and semi-structured interviews with participants and course instructors. By attempting to create accountable and rational actors, who ‘self-manage’, the therapeutic ethos neglects participants’ life experiences and subcultural capital. Open expressions of moral values by prisoners (such as displays of honour and respect) are considered to be cognitive distortions which are dismissed by instructors, while alternative and ‘correct’ thinking styles are prescribed. Our findings advance understandings of the meanings of honour and respect in prisons in general and in cognitive-behavioural programmes in particular.

cognitive-behavioural programmes, honour, prisons, respect, subcultural capital
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Punishment and Society
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SAGE Publications
This work was supported by the Danish Council for Independent Research | Social Sciences grant number 12-125308 for the research project Education in Social Skills and Emotional Training.