institutional aggression 24mark essay plan

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Institutional aggression
Institutional aggression Involves aggressive/violent behaviour that exists within, and may be a
defining feature of, a certain institution or group such as a prison, the armed forces or schools etc.
AO1 ­ Situational / deprivation model
­ Dispositional / Importation model
2 Studies
2 Real life examples ie ­ Hazing, Abu Graab, terrorism
Institutional aggression is aggression that occurs within an institution which has its own
social roles where behaviour is formally restricted by others such as staff. The aggression can
occure within groups or institutions such as the armed forces, prisons or mental
institutions, or between groups.
The Dispositional/importation model suggests that it is the individuals themselves who
have aggressive traits or characteristics who then bring their aggressive behaviour into an
institution rather than the institution creating aggressive behaviour.
Irwin and Cressey ­ Claim that prisoners bring their own social histories and traits with
them into prison, and this influences their adaptation to the prison environment. They argue
that prisoners are not `blank slates' when they enter prison, and that many of the normative
systems developed on the outside would be imported into the prison. For example if
someone was aggressive outside the prison environment, they would bring that aggression
into the prison, if enough people who were already aggressive joined the institution, the
aggressive behaviour would become the norm.
Other personal factors that can effect aggression within institutions include alcohol
addiction, levels of education and age. Younger prison inmates for example find it harder to
adapt to prison life and are more likely to have confrontations with staff and inmates which
leads to aggressive behaviour this is an individual characteristic creating aggression rather
than the institution itself.
Irwin and cressey also suggest there are different subcultures within prisons rather than
one holistic subculture. They have recognised the importance of different subcultures such as
criminal (professional crime), convict (influenced by deprivation) and conventional (one
time offenders), and how the way they act brings different characteristics into the prison. This
supports the importation model by suggesting it is personality characteristics rather
than institutional characteristics that lead to institutional aggression.
A strength of the importation model is that is has a lot of research support for the view that
inmates bring their own characteristics to the prison. For example, DeLisi et al found that
there was a relationship between gang membership and aggression in prison. This
suggests that personal subcultural values had been imported into prison by gang
However, the importation model is reductionist. It does not consider that aggression in
institutions can be influenced by the institution itself or that any other factors may cause
aggression. This is a limitation for the study because other studies have found that the

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Stamford prison.] Therefore the importation model is not valid in explaining all
institutional aggression.
Secondly the study is deterministic, implying that if someone has shown aggressive
behaviour before entering the institution, they will act aggressively within it as well. This is not
always the case as some prisoners will decide to not act aggressively from then on, as a
direct result of being sent to prison in the first place.…read more

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Strength of the deprivation model is that there is a lot of research support. For example,
Richards examined assaults in 900 US prisons and found that particular areas of the
institution actually decreased levels of aggression compared to others. This supports the
deprivation model as it suggests that the characteristics of the institution itself cause
aggression because when the situation was changed, aggression reduced.…read more


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