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Slide 1

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Discuss explanations of institutional
aggression (8+16 marks)
By Daniela Petrillo…read more

Slide 2

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Introduction (AO1)
· Institutional aggression (E.g. Jails and care
homes) are mainly associated with hostile
· This is emotive aggression caused by the need
to vent anger or frustrations.…read more

Slide 3

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The Importation model (AO1)
· This is a dispositional model suggesting that prisoners `import' their social histories and traits
into prison, and this influences their behaviour.
· They believe that the same behaviour they see in prison is the same as what people display
in normal society.
· Irwin and Cressey recognised the importance of prisoner subcultures and identified 3
1. Criminal subculture: These inmates follow the norms they developed through their career in
crime E.g. Not betraying each other and trusting fellow inmates.
2. Convict subculture: These inmates were raised in the prison system who seek positions of
power and influence. They are more likely to turn to aggression and are influenced by
deprivation prior to imprisonment.
3. Conventional subculture: These inmates tend to be `one time offenders' who were not part
of a subculture before entering prison. They reject other subcultures and identify more with
prison staff.
These subcultures can be used to demonstrate how an individual's beliefs and values can
influence the group they will join in prison, and ascertain whether they will be aggressive or
not.…read more

Slide 4

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Evaluation for Importation model
Research to support from Mills et al ­ surveyed 202 inmates newly admitted to a Canadian prison ­
using alcohol dependence scale, they found higher levels of aggression were associated with alcohol
­ Findings support idea that people bring own personal problems with them into prison ­ leads to
This research can be criticised for culture bias ­ carried out in Canada ­ difficult to generalise results
to explain institutional aggression across all cultures ­ In some places such as Saudi Arabia, it is illegal
to drink ­ this study can be used to explain prison violence there ­ Study only offers partial support
for importation model and does not explain universal characteristics of institutional aggression
across all cultures.
Self report method ­ could have been social desirability where prisoners lie about previous
alcohol abuse to display themselves in best possible light and blame their violence on alcohol
and not themselves ­ lowers internal validity of study ­ does not offer sufficient support for
model leading to aggression.
More research to support comes from Kate and Janus ­ found that greater periods of
unemployment, lower level of education and serious criminal records correlated with greater
likelihood of aggression whilst imprisoned ­ Supports convict subcultures where deprivation prior to
imprisonment links with aggression.
Correlation analysis ­ can't establish cause and effect between criminal's background and aggression ­
can't account for extraneous variables such as too much testosterone ­ can't directly link aggression to
backgrounds.…read more

Slide 5

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The Deprivation model (AO1)
· This is a situational model suggesting that prison aggression originates due to daily
deprivations of prison life which were such that prisoners could not form healthy
relationships with people outside of prison.
· Sykes suggests the following deprivations in prison cause aggression:
1. Deprivation of liberty: Makes prisoners feel like they cannot be trusted to live in the free
2. Deprivation of autonomy: Prisoners have few powers and make few decisions on a daily
basis, and makes them feel helpless.
3. Deprivation of goods and services: Prisoners are deprived from many goods and services
normally available, bringing a feeling of failure.
4. Deprivation of heterosexual relationships: For heterosexual men, female companionship
plays an important part of their self-identity, so the prevalence of homosexual men brings a
feeling of anxiety.
5. Deprivation of security: Many prisoners often fear for their own security a other prisoners
are seen as a threat.
These daily deprivations can cause prisoners to become frustrated leading to aggression.…read more

Slide 6

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Evaluation for Deprivation model (AO2)
Research to support comes from Bloomber and Lucken ­ reported that prisoners need permission to
eat, sleep, shower and interact ­ leads to frustration ­ affects prisoner's ability to maintain
relationships with family and friends ­ supports idea that deprivation of liberty can lead to
institutional aggression.
High in ecological validity ­ conducted in a prison ­ can generalise to other similar settings where
aggression taken place ­ high external validity ­ provides strong evidence for model leading to
Further research to support comes from Cox ­ examined the effects of prison overcrowding on
aggression ­ Found aggression had decreased by 60% when population decreased by 30% - supports
deprivation leads to aggression.
Has practical applications ­ shows overcrowding increases aggression in prisons ­ can be used to
ensure safety of other prisoners and guards by reducing population size to ensure overcrowding does
not occur ­ an be argued to be an important area of applied society as it supports model leading to
aggression ­ can benefit society.
Contradicting evidence found by Light ­ found many prison assaults had unexplained motives ­
difficult to conduct research and draw firm conclusions ­ Found 25% of prison assaults had no
apparent reason ­ difficult to get conclusive research findings on real life aggression to support the
model.…read more


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