Institutional Aggression (explanations) - Prisons

My notes on explanations for institutional aggression relating to prisons: dispositional explanation and situational explanation(:  

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  • Created on: 02-05-12 13:15
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Institutional Aggression PRISONS
Situational explanations: claim it's the characteristics of the prison itself that accounts for
the violence. Accept that inmates brought into the prison system are likely to possess norms that
are more permissive of violence and aggression, but they believe it is predominately the
experience of prison that causes prisoners intense frustration which eventually leads to
Deprivation Model... Sykes (5 deprivations as a result of being imprisoned)
1. Liberty: cut off from family/friends links with community weaken, can't go anywhere
they want to anymore = loss of emotional relationships, loneliness and boredom =
painfully depriving
2. Goods and Services: harshly Spartan environment , inadequate standard of living, fails
to provide symbolic personal belongings which takes away sense of individual identity=
frustration and boredom and identity crisis
3. Heterosexual relationships: no access to partners, inmate are figuratively castrated
by involuntary celibacy. = masculinity anxieties self image in danger some may turn to
homosexuality, and there's fear of being attacked
4. Autonomy: subjected to vast body of rules and commands designed to
control/regulate behaviour, have inability to act as an individual making own choices=
frustration of prisoners
5. Security: Prolonged intimacy with other men including violent aggression individuals=
anxiety provoking. Constant fear of when you'll have to stand up to some body/ get
tested. Also brings about an `ego threat' of possessions
A02: Research support/oppose...
Overcrowding in prisons, lack of privacy and meaningful activity found to be
significant indicators of prison aggression violence= very common in crowded prisons
as the conditions exacerbate the tensions which already exist among inmates. ­
However = inconsistent findings=> psychiatric prisons found increased personal
space failed to decrease violence.
McCorkle and colleagues point out the levels of stress associated with prisons are
usually constant, whereas serious outbreaks of violence are not. Claiming that serious
violence is more a consequence of the management of prisons rather than the general
deprivation that all prisoners endure. (Unpleasantness of prison is all there yet prison
isn't constantly aggressive= must be something else)
Dehumanisation: process whereby you have to ability to psychologically detach yourself so
you are seen as less than human, this would remove any (external) moral constraints you would
normally have as a human and thus partake in aggressive behaviour.
A02: Research support/oppose...

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Bandura: referred to one group as animals and the other the nice group, found higher
shocks were delivered in animals where people are not seen to have human emotions
of behaviour making it more acceptable to behave aggressively.
Zimbardo: Stamford experiment showed how lack of external constraints and peer
pressure led the guards to disregard the potential harm of their actions towards the
prisoners.…read more

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Race and Age: US Evidence= nonwhite, young inmates are more likely to be
aggressive in prison may be because they groups = `disenfranchised' (separated from
mainstream societies norms and values promoting prosocial behaviour. Also from
relatively deprived areas and with subcultures where aggression is valued, respected
and reinforced.…read more


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