Society of Captives: A Study of a Maximum Security Prison

Society of Captives A Study of a Maximum Security Prison Gresham Sykes wrote the book at the height of the Cold War motivated by the world s experience of fascism and communism to study the closest thing to a totalitarian system in American life a maximum

  • Title: Society of Captives: A Study of a Maximum Security Prison
  • Author: Gresham M. Sykes
  • ISBN: 9780691028149
  • Page: 457
  • Format: Paperback
  • Gresham Sykes wrote the book at the height of the Cold War, motivated by the world s experience of fascism and communism to study the closest thing to a totalitarian system in American life a maximum security prison The book is remarkably short just 150 pages but bristles with ideas Sykes argued that many of the psychological effects of modern prison are even bruGresham Sykes wrote the book at the height of the Cold War, motivated by the world s experience of fascism and communism to study the closest thing to a totalitarian system in American life a maximum security prison The book is remarkably short just 150 pages but bristles with ideas Sykes argued that many of the psychological effects of modern prison are even brutal than the physical cruelties of the past The trauma of being designated one of the very worst human beings in the world left prisoners with lifelong scars It also inspired solidarity among prisoners and fierce resistance to authorities as strategies for rejecting those who rejected them His analysis called into question whether prisons genuinely were, as many believed, total institutions, where every facet of life was rigidly controlled Sykes showed that the stronger the bonds among prisoners, the difficult it was for prison guards to run the prisons without finding ways of accommodating the prisoners.The book set the stage for Michel Foucault s Discipline and Punish, among other works Since it appeared in 1958, it has served society as an indispensable text in coming to terms with the nature of modern power.

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      Published :2018-05-09T14:35:18+00:00

    One thought on “Society of Captives: A Study of a Maximum Security Prison”

    1. This book is still timely, even thought it is over 60 years old. This isn't a history of New Jersey State Prison, but rather using it to understand the impact of imprisonment on guards ('custodians'), prisoners and management. It looks at the motivation of prisoner compliance and the 're-creation' of society within 'the walls'. Still relevant and well written.

    2. No reviews for this book? Hard to believe given the number of used copies available. Surely many have read "Society of Captives"?Sykes uses the sociological framework of Talcott Parsons to analyze the "life of prison" in terms of its effects on the inmates. Sykes was obviously a key reference point for Goffman's work in "Asylums". Sykes works around the idea of describing a maximum security prison as a "total institution", but fails to really nail the concept down.He makes some interesting obser [...]

    3. I thought this book was kind of interesting. It was written in the 50's, to me a long time ago; when one of the prisoners did something not good, he was placed isolation with a restricted diet: bread and water. The author mentions deviant behavior: a guards comes upon two prisoners in a cell, both are naked and one is on top of the other. The guards and prisoners have a strange relationship. I gave this read 3 stars, I found myself rereading parts of the book several times to get the full meanin [...]

    4. I can understand why this has become a criminology/prison sociology classic. It is very well written for an academic text. Sykes' findings read like a novel, and are both accessible and informative.Due to the time period it was written in, there are some misogynistic phrases used and unfortunately the text reflects the (then legal) fact that homosexual men were classed as sexual deviants within prison society. However, whilst this doesn't sit well it is probably best regarded as 'of its time' an [...]

    5. I didn't like this book as an actual sociological study, but I did enjoy it as a glimpse into an American Maximum Security Prison of the 1950's. Must be the History student in me. There were a number of interesting points to look at from a new millenium point of view, such as what a "hipster" in prison meant to the fact that the case study prison (in New Jersey) had a number of inmates essentially convicted for being homosexuals. Quite interesting overall though.

    6. I didn't really want to give this a rating at all but the GR app required it for me to update the status to completed. I didn't especially enjoy this though I'm sure it has academic value and has been influential for criminology. Just a personal "meh" because I read it for class when I have a cold and would rather have been sleeping. Note: tinges of racism and homophobia permeate throughout, a historical artifact.

    7. This was a very interesting socio-ethnographic take on the Trenton maximum security prison. Sykes' attention to power negotiations and prison argot is especially useful. Sykes is a good writer, thought provoking and highly quotable. This is a text that will endure as a classic in the field of criminology.

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