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