Prisoners’ work in prison : the meaning and arrangement of time as experienced by imprisoned workers
The practical and symbolic social effects of work on how imprisoned persons relate to time is studied here from a labor sociology perspective. In the thinking of Donald Clemmer and Erving Goffman, two classic sociologists of the prison, the unity of the confined prison space goes together with a unity of time. But in direct opposition to these approaches, the findings of a field study conducted in five French prisons suggests that the private life/occupational life split characteristic of wage-paid labor is also relevant for the lives of incarcerated workers. The work they do enhances prison security. For the imprisoned workers themselves it is a major means reappropriating space and time in a context of freedom-deprivation. Prison labor is analyzed as a means of socialization within a continuum of prisoners’ past work-lives.