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Teabags, tools and getting my hands dirty: The female outsider in the total (male) institution

Pandeli, Jenna


Jenna Pandeli
Senior Lecturer in Organisation Studies


This paper discusses the complex role that gender plays for the female researcher in a male prison. I reflect on how gender influenced my research outcomes and my experience of the field by drawing on ethnographic research in a total (male) institution. I found that whilst being female facilitated access and the building of relationships with participants it also posed challenges in the field. But more than the simple pros and cons of gender in the field, interestingly, the advantages of being a female were paradoxical. Whilst stereotypical female traits such as being nurturing and empathetic encouraged prisoners to open up, I gained respect and admiration by performing masculine activities such as using tools and, quite literally, getting my hands dirty.


Pandeli, J. (2015, August). Teabags, tools and getting my hands dirty: The female outsider in the total (male) institution. Paper presented at Ethnography Symposium 2015

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Conference Name Ethnography Symposium 2015
Start Date Aug 25, 2015
End Date Aug 28, 2015
Acceptance Date Aug 25, 2015
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Keywords ethnography, gender, reflexivity, prison, total institution, female outsider
Additional Information Title of Conference or Conference Proceedings : Ethnography Symposium 2015


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