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Characteristics of Total Institutions: Goffman on the Prison Experience

Presentation for Oct 15 Punishment in Society class.

Jeremy Baarbe

on 15 October 2012

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Transcript of Characteristics of Total Institutions: Goffman on the Prison Experience

Erving Goffman on the Prison Experience CHARACTERISTICS OF TOTAL INSTITUTIONS Erving Goffman (1922 - 1982) TOTAL INSTITUTION Contamination throughout one's "Moral Career" MORTIFICATION OF SELF Questions? Background Born in Mannville, Alberta 1945 - B.A. in Sociology and Anthropology 1949, 1953 - M.A. and Ph.D in Socology 1959 1961 Goffman and the Self Charles Horton Cooley (1902) The Looking Glass Self Face-to-face interactions
Identity = "Self"
The result of learning to see what others see "I am not what I think I am, and I am not what you think I am; I am what I think that you think I am" Life is a stage! 6th most cited intellectual, 2007 (Times Higher Eduction, 2009)
Non-conformist, maverick
Situated in anti-psychiatry movement, labelling theories
Chicago School
Face-to-face interactions

(Hayward & Maruna, 2010) Impression Managment Front Region Back Region SELF & SETTING Structure and Agency THE "a place of residence or work where a large number of like-situated individuals cut off from the wider society for an appreciable period of time, together lead an enclosed, formally administered round of life." social arrangements that influence the available choices we can make capacity to act independently and make our own choices when structure limits agency "barrier to social intercourse" Care for the Incapable and Harmless (Group Homes)
Care for the Incapable and Harmful (Mental Hospitals)
Protect the community from the Harmful (Prisons)
Purse work-like tasks (Boarding Schools, Army Barracks)
Retreats for spiritual training (Monasteries) Five Types of Total Institutions Central Feature breakdown in barriers SLEEP WORK PLAY Bureaucratic handling of human needs Supervision = Surveillance Cultural split between inmates and supervisors Incompatible with the Family Unit How does the Total Institution Affect the Self? "Presenting culture" and "home world" Disculturalization through Programing Loss of Identity Kit Violation of the Back Stage Defiling the body 2. Goffman categorizes a wide range of institutions as "total institutions" and describes them together as a Weberian "ideal type". But, his research primarily occurred within large scale mental institutions that no longer exist, post-deinstitutionalization.

Does Goffman's work on total institutions apply to today's prison experience? What value does Asylums have today? 2. Goffman presents the mortification of self as an inevitable result of residing in a total institution. He suggests (later in Asylums) that inmates can only preserve their self identity through internalization and conversion to the staff culture. Challenging the social order is not tolerated.

Did Goffman fail or succeed in critically challenging the social order that necessitates such secondary adjustments? Survival through "secondary adjustments" 1. Goffman's dramaturgical approach views the self as dualistic, with a front and a back stage. The "total" institution represents a total attack on the self, and by attacking the self, forces conformity with the social order.

Do you agree? Can we expect this conformity to social order to extend beyond total institution? Is this the case in the real world? Why or why not? facilitating, not challenging the social order
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