Institutional Aggression

A look at theories of aggression in institutions (e.g. prisons). The two theories are Importation model and deprivation model.

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Institutional Aggression

Definition - This is that aggression is institutions such as prisons, the military, police, etc. Institutional aggression ranges from ritual humiliation, abuse to things such as genocide.

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Importation model

Irwin and Cressey (1962) Argue people who enter institutions don't go in with clean slates, they bring with them their personalities and experiences. Therefore those form from violent backgrounds will be more likely to be involved in aggression in institutions.

Toch (1997) "All prisoners inherit their subcultural sediments from the street corners that supply them with clients." This suggests that those who are aggressive on the streets will be violent in institutions.

Soldiers who engaged in Abu Ghraib were called "bad apples" and "rogue soldiers", claiming it was their backgrounds  that caused them to act the way they did.

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Deprivation model

Harer and Steffensmeier (1996) claim that violence in institutions are the result of the institution, rather than the background of individuals. They argue the stress and frustration of imprisonment leads to the violence. Skyes highlighted the lack of 5 factors that cause violence in prisons.

Liberty (freedom) - Numbering, making the inmates wear uniforms, inmates being told when to eat, sleep, shower, etc.

Autonomy (independence) - Inmates have no power or free choice. They will therefore feel helpless and frustrated. They can be told things such as "there is no exercise today" and will not be given a reason.

Goods and services - Inmates lose all the luxuries they had in the free world, living to near poverty standards.

Heterosexual relations - In prisons the inmates have no interaction with the other sex, and faces the threat of homosexual behavior, causing anxiety.

Security - Inmates will fear violent offenders (e.g. in maximum prisons)

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Issues and Debates

The research into institutional aggression can be argued to be socially sensitive and culturally bias. Studies looking into aggression in black and white inmates can be influenced by stereotypes. It may be assumes that the black inmates come from violent and poor backgrounds.

Also, both the importation and deprivation model take extreme positions in the nature-nurture debate. The deprivation model is based on the nurture and environment, while the importation is based on nature, looking at the characteristics of a individual. Integration model is a mixture of both importation and deprivation model and is seen to be the more accurate model.

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The issues and debates section is brilliant and so helpful! Thank you! :D

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