The Analytic Possibilities of 'Culture' in a Post-Prison Context
Source TitleCrime, justice and social democracy: Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference, 2013, Volume 1
University of Melbourne Author/sJohns, Diana
AffiliationSchool of Social and Political Sciences
Document TypeConference Paper
CitationsJohns, D. (2014). The Analytic Possibilities of 'Culture' in a Post-Prison Context. Crime, justice and social democracy: Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference, 2013, Volume 1, pp.92-98. Elsevier BV. https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2435806.
Access StatusOpen Access
This paper is focused on the use and usefulness of ‘culture’ as an analytical tool, in the context of prisoners’ return to the community. Whereas the analytic dimensions of the culture concept have been explored in anthropological circles, its criminological applications have been limited. While the growth of ‘cultural criminology’ signifies a resurgent interest in ethnography, subjectivity, lived experience and the phenomenological, for instance, it can be argued that its concept of culture lacks explanatory or analytical power. This paper considers the analytic possibilities of ‘culture’ as a tool for uncovering aspects of the post-imprisonment experience. It draws on interviews with released prisoners and post-release support workers, conducted for PhD research on the post-release experience of men in Victoria, to illustrate how culture applied in this way can illuminate processes underpinning and constituting the cycle of reimprisonment, or what Halsey (2006) has termed the ‘reincarceration assemblage’. Seeing culture as both a ‘product and producer’ (Sampson & Bean, 2006) of this assemblage reveals elements which contribute to the continuation of the cycle, and which can counteract efforts – on the part of ex-prisoners themselves and society more broadly – towards reintegration and reduced reoffending. A cultural perspective can thus provide a way of understanding men’s experience of getting out and staying out of prison, and how penological thinking may make use of such a lens.
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