Desktop version

Home arrow Psychology

  • Increase font
  • Decrease font


<<   CONTENTS   >>

Control

... masculinity has as its intention the control of self and ‘other’. (Odih

1999:19)

Control was an element that ran throughout the themes that emerged from the fieldwork, and was a concept that often highlighted the gendered natures of behaviours and interactions within the prison. Control differs from responsibility, which is defined as being where someone is:

liable to be called to account as being in charge or control; answerable (to a person, etc. for something); deserving the blame or credit of (with for); governed by a sense of responsibility; being a free moral agent; morally accountable for one’s actions. (The Chambers Dictionary 2003: 1290)

In this context in that such use of control is not enforceable by others—although failure to achieve masculinity can result in demarcation and derision from the masculine prison collective—no one can say that actions that assert ownership over people, spaces, or selves have particular ‘moral accountability’. Similarly, control does not necessarily equate to ‘power’: ‘the skill, physical ability, opportunity or authority to do something; strength or energy; force or effectiveness’ (The Chambers Dictionary 2003: 1182).

The majority of men in prison are, by their very situation, disem- powered and lack a degree of legitimate masculine authority. Power is sometimes taken too far in discussions of gender—Kaufman states that ‘the common feature of the dominant forms of contemporary masculinity is that manhood is equated with having some sort of power’ (1994: 145). Arguably, however, this is too simplistic a determination. Men in prison can have masculine status whilst being socially disempowered. In addition, if one considers control on a broader level, not simply forms of interpersonal domination as Kaufman discusses (1994: 146) instead of power, a new dimension is added to the situation. Power tends to be situated in terms of interpersonal relations and is arguably conferred through the eyes and responses of others (the performance for an audience), whereas control is much more about influences that individuals acquire and exert over others and their selves and spaces (performance for the self). These two dimensions of performance need to sit together to be successful achievements of masculinity. Power is a salient matter in prisoners’ lives, and personal empowerment can be associated with control of the self. Throughout prisoners’ accounts, men spoke in terms that implied the importance of three distinct elements of control: the control of others, the control of personal space, and the control of self.

 
<<   CONTENTS   >>

Related topics