In community settings, there’s always at least one person or perhaps a group of individuals who are most highly respected. Prison systems are no different; one’s social status results from interpersonal dynamics. To better understand social structure in California prison communities, Brian Colwell, a researcher at the University of Missouri, recently examined peer relationships among inmates.
His theoretical study examines prison culture and processes in which inmates determine respect, or lack thereof, for their peers. He said respect is rooted in perceived similarities among people and can be conveyed in a variety ways: eye contact, physical orientation, similar behaviors and how inmates speak to one another.
“People always want to size up another person,” said Colwell, assistant professor of sociology in the College of Arts and Science. “But in prison, marking another person as being of higher or lower status, and communicating those evaluations, can get you in a lot of trouble. You don’t want to seem subservient, and you also don’t want to diminish someone else. You want to maintain a level playing field. For that reason, to avoid conflict, a lot of emphasis is placed on respect. Showing someone respect is a way of recognizing his or her value as being similar to yours. It’s a way of honoring someone as a person, but not necessarily doing so because they’re better.”
Social circumstances and realities associated with prison environments necessitated the study. At 16 California prisons, Colwell conducted 131 interviews of first-time and long-term male inmates, asking them questions like: What advice do you give new inmates coming into prison? What are some of the things you want to know about an inmate you’re meeting for the first time? What prevents inter-group violence at this prison?
He said the California system is unique because it is factional and populated with various groups of inmates who align themselves according to communities, ethnicity and gang affiliation. They must coexist, he said, but in most circumstances those various groups prefer to remain separated because they don’t get along. In addition, they don’t want to be subjugated, Colwell said.“There’s a lot that goes on in prison,” he said. “Prison is not an alien world; similar things occur outside of prisons such as groups not getting along and having separate social organizations but trying to coexist. It’s like the term Balkanization, inter-ethnic conflict, the Sunnis and Kurds. A prison itself is like this ongoing society that is fractured, and one’s relations are often characterized by extremes of conflict and cohesion. It’s a microcosm of situations where there’s a lot of civil strife. It’s an inmate society, but the dynamic is pertinent to how people deal with living in contentious social environments.”
The study, “Deference or Respect? Status Management Practices Among Prison Inmates,” will appear in the December issue of Social Psychology Quarterly.
Bryan C. Daniels | EurekAlert!
WAKE-UP provides new treatment option for stroke patients | International study led by UKE
17.05.2018 | Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf
First form of therapy for childhood dementia CLN2 developed
25.04.2018 | Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf
The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.
Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...
A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.
The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
25.05.2018 | Event News
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering
25.05.2018 | Life Sciences