Being Inside: Masculine Imaginaries, Prison Interiors

  • Rod Earle
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Prisons and Penology book series (PSIPP)


Drawing on personal experience of imprisonment and from ethnographic research in men’s prisons, I explore some of the existential predicaments of imprisonment that may be peculiar to men. The situation of the prisoner is unique in throwing men together into an involuntary, highly regulated and confined community. The proximities and intimacies involved represent a paradoxical challenge to conventional notions of insular and autonomous masculinity. The formal institutionalisation of homosociality in prison life (i.e. life lived almost exclusively among other men) generates ironic tensions with the informal way men’s public lives often exclude women. This experience can take men in prison inside their own lives in unexpected ways. Differing experiences of gender, race, class and ethnicity shape this journey, and how men think about prison and their own relationship to wider society on the outside. In this chapter, I reflect on ongoing work within Convict Criminology (Earle 2016) that encourages academic reflexivity among those who combine experience of imprisonment and careers in criminology.


Masculinities Prison Autoethnography Convict criminology Gender Post-colonial 



The author would like to thank the editors for helpful feedback on an earlier draft of this paper and acknowledge their contribution to improving its final form.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rod Earle
    • 1
  1. 1.The Open UniversityMilton KeynesUK

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