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Theoretical Perspectives on Alienation in the Prison Society: An Empirical Test

An theoretical study including empirical experiment, analysis, and discussion on alienation in prison society.

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Although alienation has frequently been employed in prison research in an attempt to account for variations in the impact of the process of prisonization, little effort has been focused on explaining why inmates so frequently appear highly alienated. The purpose of this research was to test the implications that can be derived from two basic paradigms that have been developed to explain the adaptations made by inmates to the conditions of their confinement. The analysis, based on data obtained from 276 Virginia inmates in 1970, evaluates the ability of 5 theoretically significant sets of variables (social background and demographic influences, criminal career variables, extraprison contacts, postprison expectations, and measures of temporal influences) to predict levels of alienation among those in the sample. The findings show that the most powerful predictors were social class of origin, educational attainment, age, and age at first court appearance. Read more...