Work, Intimacy and Prisoner Masculinities

  • Martha Morey
  • Ben Crewe
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Prisons and Penology book series (PSIPP)


Given the boom in studies interrogating prisoner masculinities in the last two decades or so, it can no longer be said that prisoners’ gender identities have been neglected in academic research or, specifically, that the ‘maleness’ of male prisoners is hidden, invisible or unquestioned. Yet the tendency noted by Joe Sim, writing during the first wave of research on prison masculinities, for themes of domination to be ‘emphasised at the expense of contradiction, challenge and change’ (1994: 111) has endured. The focus of much research into prisoner masculinities has been troublingly narrow, concentrating on their most spectacular and stereotypical manifestations. The result is that most portrayals of men in prison present a relatively reductive picture of aggression, emotional coldness and machismo (see, e.g., Sabo et al. 2001). Whether or not such accounts were accurate in the closing decades of the previous century, subsequent changes in the broader socio-economic climate, in the nature of imprisonment and, therefore, in cultures and practices of masculinity mean that the continuing use of a terminology of ‘hypermasculinity’ is increasingly questionable. Drawing on two separate pieces of primary prison research, this chapter seeks to explore prison masculinities as they apply to the spheres of work and intimacy, in ways that highlight the complexity and diversity of male prisoners’ identities.


Hypermasculinity Friendship Intimacy Prison work Prison labour Masculinities Homosocial relations 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martha Morey
    • 1
  • Ben Crewe
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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