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Institutional aggression is a violent behaviour that exists within an institution and can refer to
other forms of violence between social groups.
SITUATIONAL: The deprivation model
The deprivation model claims institutions cause aggression and not the individuals
themselves. For example, factors such as deprivation in prison life affect the way a prisoner
will function in jail. Sykes (1958) deprivation model illustrates 5 main ways in which a prisoner
1. Liberty- prisoners are referred to by number and aware that they have lost civil rights
and trust from society.
2. Autonomy- losing independence as they don't have control over decisions such as when
or what they eat.
3. Goods and services- you have limited use of phones and no use of the Internet, which can
lead to feelings of inadequacy.
4. Heterosexual relationships- having no relationship with a female will lead to a stronger
5. Security- With many inmates, violence is common in prisons even with security guards,
which minimizes security in the institution.
Wilson et al. found that in British prisons reduced levels of overcrowding and heat at HMP
Woodhill led to dramatic reduction in aggressive behaviour amongst inmates. Frequent staff
changes also proved this. This supports the theory because it indicates their personal space,
which they have been deprived of in the institution, when returned can reduce aggression
suggesting that aggression is correlated with depriving factors.
Cultural bias because the study was conducted in British prisons and may not have
data that is representative of other cultures.
Better environment for prisoners. Although there is evidence for this theory,
others argue that this suggests we should create a better environment for prisoners which
defeat the point of the prison. We can use this research in other institutions but it may not be
acceptable to apply it to prisons.
Light (1990) found that overcrowding gives a lack of privacy and so correlated with the
likelihood of violence.
McCorkle et al examined individual and collective acts of aggression in 371 prisons finding
that the deprivation model wasn't useful in explaining the rates of prison violence. They
found that it was caused by high staff turnover and lack of staff discipline.
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DISPOSITIONAL: The importation model
This was developed by Irwin and Cressey who explained prisons often import aspects of
their own life into prisons such as gender, race or addiction. For example, an alcohol addiction
can result in aggression or race and age where aggression is valued and respected may be
imported into prison.
Irwin and Cressey identified 3 prison subcultures:
1. Criminal- Prisoners who follow norms and values and are LOYAL to other criminals.