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Incarcerated Interactions

A Theory-Driven Analysis of Applied Prison Communication


Edited By Erik D. Fritsvold and Jonathan M. Bowman

Incarcerated Interactions: A Theory-Driven Analysis of Applied Prison Communication is an innovative, applied edited book that uses core interdisciplinary social science theories to analyze and describe the social psychology and sociology of communicative interactions amongst incarcerated individuals. Beginning with the fundamentals of human interactions, this edited volume allows scholars across a variety of disciplines (such as criminology, sociology, communication studies, social psychology, anthropology, and economics) to become familiar with and apply the core principles and the requisite terminology of human communication within a criminological context. Each of the four sections of the text not only build upon the knowledge structures of previous chapters, but also function as stand-alone analyses and/or applications of extant scholarship within essential contexts. From a general discussion of core social science theory to the specific application of that theory in a range of scholarly contexts, this book addresses relevant issues such as mental illness and wellness, the gendered experience of inmates, recidivism rates, violence, the criminogenic effect of incarceration and the large-scale implications of prison gangs and their associated cultural influence, to name a few.

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6. Prison Wives: The Social Order of Transgendered Inmates : Courtney Cronin


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6. Prison Wives: The Social Order of Transgendered Inmates


When a transgender woman is convicted of a serious crime, she is placed in a prison facility according to her birth sex like other incarcerated individuals. Unlike other criminals, however, she is housed in a facility designed for a gender with which she does not identify. She must navigate a social order based on relative masculinity, while simultaneously fighting to maintain the outward appearance of a woman. The few empirical studies that exist on transgender populations in prison describe how some transgender women in men’s prisons imitate what they view as the role of women in greater society in order to achieve status among their transgender peers. This practice, evident in Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing (Conover, 2001) and Enforcing the Convict Code: Violence and Prison Culture (Trammell, 2012), has resulted in the operation of two different social hierarchies in prison. One, based on traditional masculine values, and the other based on an entirely unique interpretation of “girl power”.

In prison, an individual’s power and position in the social hierarchy is based almost exclusively on social interaction. According to Brown and Levinson’s politeness theory, inherent parts of interaction are threats to positive face (the favorable image that a person wants to portray) and negative face (the desire to be free from constraint and imposition; Brown & Levinson, 1987). These faces can be threatened or validated by behaviors...

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