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‘I am a person who works’: The stigmatised prisoner identity and the work self as redeemer

Pandeli, Jenna


Jenna Pandeli
Senior Lecturer in Organisation Studies


Based on the findings of a ten-month ethnography of prisoners incarcerated in a British prison, this paper addresses how prisoners negotiate between two divergent identities, the criminal self and the work self to manage stigma. Two categories of prisoner are identified; the Not-for-Profit Criminal and the Career Criminal. Not-for-Profit Criminal embrace the work self to distance himself from the Criminal self; they draw on a hard-work ethic to avoid being deemed the ‘lazy criminal’. In contrast, for the Career Criminal, the two selves are intertwined- they are ‘hard working criminals’ and their work is their criminal activity. This research teases out the differences in prisoners’ strategies for managing stigma. They are not a homogenous group; how they respond, react and adapt their discursive strategies are different. This paper contributes to an understanding of how individuals navigate ideal worker images alongside stigmatised identities.


Pandeli, J. (2018, September). ‘I am a person who works’: The stigmatised prisoner identity and the work self as redeemer. Paper presented at British Academy of Management Conference 2018

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Conference Name British Academy of Management Conference 2018
Start Date Sep 4, 2018
End Date Sep 6, 2018
Acceptance Date Sep 4, 2018
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Keywords prisoners, stigma, identity, ethnography, work, work ethic
Public URL
Additional Information Title of Conference or Conference Proceedings : British Academy of Management


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