The Dynamics of Conflict, Fear and Power
Routledge – 2002 – 230 pages
Prisons are dangerous places, and assaults, threats, theft and verbal abuse are pervasive - attributable both to the characteristics of the captive population and to an institutional sub culture which promotes violence as a means of resolving conflicts. Yet the crimes perpetrated by prisoners on other prisoners have attracted little interest, and criminological research has contributed little to an understanding of situations in which violence arises in penal institutions. This book seeks to remedy this, and to address and answer a number of key questions: how do features of the prison social setting shape conflicts?; what social norms guide the decision to use violence?; what are the personal and social consequences of spending months or years in places where distrust and anxiety are normal?; how do staff respond to the dangers that are part of daily life in many prisons?; is it possible to identify factors associated with risk and resilience?; and what methods of handling conflicts do prisoners use that could prevent violence? Prison Violence adopts a distinctive approach to answering these questions, and is based on extensive research, including interviews with both victims and perpetrators of prison violence; it pioneers a conflict-centred approach, seeking to understand the pathways into and out of situations where there is potential for violence, focusing on interpersonal and institutional dynamics rather than on individual psychological factors.