Ethnicity, Identity and Social Relations in Prison, 2006-2008


Abstract copyright UK Data Service and data collection copyright owner.

This is a qualitative data collection. The project examined individual and collective identities in prisons. In particular, it focused on how ethnic and masculine identities have a bearing on prisoners' social relationships. The study had three main aims:to examine the role of ethnic identities in shaping social relationships in prison, and compare this with relations in prisoners' home communitiesto determine how different racialised masculine identities are expressed in terms of, for example, ethnicity, religion, age, nationality and regionalityto assess the influence of institutional practices on individuals and group identities, the extent and nature of prisoner solidarity, and provide evidence of social hierarchies and gang membership that are influenced by identityThe project comprised two ethnographic studies conducted in Kent, at a male young offenders' institution (Her Majesty's Young Offenders' Institution (HMYOI) Rochester) and an adult male prison (Her Majesty's Prison (HMP) Maidstone). Two main research methods were used: interaction and observation of prison life over an eight-month period; and semi-structured interviews with 60 young adult prisoners and 50 adult prisoners. Activities at the two research sites were as follows: at HMP Maidstone, which is a Category C prison for adult men, the researchers observed prisoner social relations through informal interactions with prisoners on the wings, interacting with them at work, in classes, during association, exercise, worship and visiting times. Fifty prisoners agreed to be interviewed, and five also took part in a focus group interviewAt HMYOI Rochester, a prison for young men aged 18-21 years, the researchers observed prisoner social relations through informal interactions with prisoners on the wings, interacting with them at work, in classes, during associations, exercise, worship, and visiting times. Sixty prisoners at Rochester agreed to be interviewed.This collection comprises 111 interview transcripts. Users should note that access to these data requires express permission of the depositor. Further information may be found on the Ethnicity, Identity, and Social Relations in Prison ESRC project award web page, and on the Identities and Social Action research programme web site.

Main Topics:

Topics covered in the interviews include background and family circumstances, educational and employment history, social networks and friendships, significant personal relationships, strategies for coping with life while in prison, interaction with other prisoners, and observations on social structures and networks based around ethnicity/religion in prison.

One-stage stratified or systematic random sample

Volunteer sample

HMP Maidstone: informants were selected based on (i) informal contacts established during the obser

Face-to-face interview

Metadata Access
Creator Phillips, C., London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Social Policy, Mannheim Centre for Criminology
Publisher UK Data Service
Publication Year 2011
Funding Reference Economic and Social Research Council
Rights Copyright C.Phillips; <p>The Data Collection is available to UK Data Service registered users subject to the <a href="" target="_blank">End User Licence Agreement</a>.</p><p>Use of the data requires approval from the data owner or their nominee.</p>
OpenAccess true
Resource Type Text; Semi-structured interview transcripts; Focus Group transcripts.
Discipline Jurisprudence; Law; Social and Behavioural Sciences
Spatial Coverage Kent; England