Process and Insight in Prison Ethnography

  • Ben CreweEmail author


This chapter discusses the origins and process of an ethnographic study in a single prison site. It reflects on the importance of dedicating time to the process, in part as a means of getting to know the prison as a human social system. It discusses the importance of granting participants moral complexity. Focussing on the matter of friendship, it outlines the way in which I developed my understanding of this aspect of prison life, both through the gradual accumulation of analytic insight and through direct experience. It comments on some of the customary anxieties expressed by prison ethnographers about the potentially exploitative nature of their relationships and concludes by highlighting the long-term benefits of ethnographic commitment.


Prisons Ethnography Friendship Authenticity 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of CriminologyUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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