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!
TU Dresden biologists examine sperm quality on the basis of their metabolism
29.11.2019 | Technische Universität Dresden
Approaching the perception of touch in the brain
27.11.2019 | Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences
Using a clever technique that causes unruly crystals of iron selenide to snap into alignment, Rice University physicists have drawn a detailed map that reveals...
University of Texas and MIT researchers create virtual UAVs that can predict vehicle health, enable autonomous decision-making
In the not too distant future, we can expect to see our skies filled with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) delivering packages, maybe even people, from location...
With ultracold chemistry, researchers get a first look at exactly what happens during a chemical reaction
The coldest chemical reaction in the known universe took place in what appears to be a chaotic mess of lasers. The appearance deceives: Deep within that...
Abnormal scarring is a serious threat resulting in non-healing chronic wounds or fibrosis. Scars form when fibroblasts, a type of cell of connective tissue, reach wounded skin and deposit plugs of extracellular matrix. Until today, the question about the exact anatomical origin of these fibroblasts has not been answered. In order to find potential ways of influencing the scarring process, the team of Dr. Yuval Rinkevich, Group Leader for Regenerative Biology at the Institute of Lung Biology and Disease at Helmholtz Zentrum München, aimed to finally find an answer. As it was already known that all scars derive from a fibroblast lineage expressing the Engrailed-1 gene - a lineage not only present in skin, but also in fascia - the researchers intentionally tried to understand whether or not fascia might be the origin of fibroblasts.
Fibroblasts kit - ready to heal wounds
Research from a leading international expert on the health of the Great Lakes suggests that the growing intensity and scale of pollution from plastics poses serious risks to human health and will continue to have profound consequences on the ecosystem.
In an article published this month in the Journal of Waste Resources and Recycling, Gail Krantzberg, a professor in the Booth School of Engineering Practice...
03.12.2019 | Event News
15.11.2019 | Event News
15.11.2019 | Event News
09.12.2019 | Earth Sciences
09.12.2019 | Information Technology
09.12.2019 | Life Sciences