Research seminar: Re-thinking the burdens of modern imprisonment

Wednesday 14 May 2014 (12:30-14:00)

If you wish to attend please contact Dr Veronica Rodriguez-Blanco at


Based on empirical research conducted in prisons over a number of years, this seminar suggests two new ways of thinking about the shape and experience of modern imprisonment. First, drawing on a major study of public and private sector imprisonment, it explains the limitations of the concept of the 'weight' of imprisonment, emphasising the risks of power being under-used, as well as over-used, in prisons. Second, it highlights the need for an alternative metaphor for conceptualising the contemporary prisoner experience, which captures some of the new burdens of penal power. The resulting framework enables a more nuanced analysis of the determinants of prisoner social life and the differences between international penal systems.

Short bio:

Ben Crewe studied Sociology at Cambridge, LSE and Essex. He is the Deputy Director of the Prisons Research Centre, University of Cambridge. He is the author of “The Prisoner Society: Power, Adaptation and Social Life in an English Prison” (Oxford University Press, 2009, paperback 2012). He has also published articles in the British Journal of Criminology, European Journal of Criminology and otherprestigious journals.

Research seminars take place at 1pm in the Senior Common Room (2nd floor) or Junior Common Room (Ground floor, G11), Birmingham Law School. A sandwich lunch and a glass of wine will be provided from 12:30pm.

Postgraduate students and academic staff are welcome to attend.

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