Working in Prison : Time as Experienced by Inmate-Workers
The practical and symbolic social effects of work on how imprisoned persons experience time are studied here from a sociology of work perspective. In the thinking of Donald Clemmer and Erving Goffman, two classic sociologists of the prison, the unity of the self-contained prison space goes together with a unity of time. In direct opposition to these approaches, the findings of a field study conducted in five French prisons suggest that the private life/work life split characteristic of paid labor is also relevant to the lives of incarcerated workers. Having inmates work improves prison security. For working inmates, meanwhile, work is a major means of re-appropriating space and time in a context of freedom deprivation. Prison labor is analyzed as an agency of socialization that connects inmates’ present lives with their past work lives.