This paper draws on a ten-month ethnographic study of private prison work in a UK prison to drawn attention to the prevalence of neoliberalism; even in an institution as secreted and isolated as a prison, the neoliberal ideology can flourish. Prisoners expressed attitudes heavily influenced by consumer culture and egoistic individualism. Most participants expressed a desire to become profitable entrepreneurs. On this basis, it should come as no surprise that prisoners admired the organizations sending work into prison. They despised the work, despised the prison for forcing them to conduct this work, but they were impressed by the firms sending this work in, who they saw as the ultimate exploitative entrepreneurs. They aspired to be entrepreneurs, and with limited opportunities to achieve this legitimately, and the exposure to poorly paid, unskilled work during their incarceration, many prisoners concluded that the best way to become entrepreneurs was through criminal means. Individualism and entrepreneurial rhetoric has clearly trickled down into the depths of our society, with those most vulnerable fighting for a place at the table; they have adopted, embraced and welcomed neoliberalism.
Pandeli, J. (2018). The nurturing of ‘good’ capitalists: Prisoners and private prison labour. Academy of Management Proceedings, 2018(1), 14696. https://doi.org/10.5465/ambpp.2018.14696abstract