Prison As A Total Institution

Pages: 5 (1183 words) Published: May 10, 2017


“A total institution may be defined as a place of residence and work where a large number of like-situated individuals, cut off from the wider society for an appreciable period of time, together lead an enclosed, firmly administered round of life” (Goffman, 1961:11). In other words, a total institution is a place where the residents live in isolation from society. This essay will draw into South African prisons as a total institution, how it governs and shapes the social life of prisoners.
Institutions guide what we do and our social guidance that governs the behaviour of communities together with societies. An example of institutions would be open and closed institutions. “An open institution is defined as a system in exchange of matter with...

The first being that all parts of social life activities are done in the same place and under the same rule. He then continues by stating that all daily activities of inmates are done in large group of people, in prions all inmates are treated the same and must do the same activities together. Goffman ends up by stating that all daily activities in prisons strictly scheduled, with one activity leading to the next at certain time and that all these activities are set by formal rulings and officers of the prisons. Meaning that everyday meals are served at the same time, in the same venue, with the same people and there are always officers on duty to guard the inmates. Also, prisoners are do not have superiority in prison regardless of what they were before being convicted. They are inferior in this institution and their superior is the officer or warden because they have the power over the prisoners...

Prisoners lives are shaped and governed in the process of admission into the institution. Their lives change the because of their identity and culture is lost. For example, prisoners lose all their possessions which include expensive clothes, jewellery and cell phone; and now you will be wearing the same orange over roll as the other prisoners. This is the end of what is social life because you will not be exposed to these possessions inside the institution. Once you in the prison authorities, your lifestyle before prison or level of education is irrelevant because now you are on the same level, have same rights and you are equal to other prisoners. Goffman (1961:26) notes that prison officers a new prisoner who does not make eye contact with an officer is a respectful and will be a complaint prisoner. This means that the officer will not be too harsh towards the prisoner because by not making eye contact with them means that the prisoner knows who is superior and has humbled...
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