Ambivalent Actions: Prison Adaptation Strategies of First-Time, Short-Term Inmates
Format of Original
Journal of Contemporary Ethnography
A person who is incarcerated for the first time becomes a “prisoner” but does not automatically acquire a meaningful status within the prison world. If the incarceration is short term, the person is unlikely to ever achieve a significant prison status because participation in the prison world will be inhibited by identification with the outside world. This condition of social marginality results in an ambivalence that directly shapes inmates' strategies for survival within the prison world. This article examines the effect of ambivalence on inmates' adaptation strategies. Data for the study were collected through participant observation and focused interviews with inmates at a maximum security prison for men.