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“Don’t mess with me!” Enacting masculinities under a compulsory prison regime

De Viggiani, Nick



Matthew Maycock

Kate Hunt


Male prisons typify any social situation where individuals interact with others, learn to cope and survive, and contend with normative conventions and expectations. Being compulsory, prison can be an intense social experience that challenges emotional, psychological and social health and wellbeing, exacerbating individuals’ efforts to acquire social legitimacy and status. Social survival is paramount, even if this compromises health, wellbeing and longer term rehabilitation, as prisoners and prison staff engage in self-censorship, self-subjectification and objectification. Deference to the hegemonic masculine institutional culture is played out via prison masculinities that reflect normative social and institutional values evident in attitudes, behaviours and regime processes. This chapter draws upon ethnographic research conducted with male prisoners to illustrate how masculinities are enacted, sanctioned and condoned at individual and institutional levels, consistent with historical conventions of gender, power and discipline.


De Viggiani, N. (2018). “Don’t mess with me!” Enacting masculinities under a compulsory prison regime. In M. Maycock, & K. Hunt (Eds.), New Perspectives on Prison Masculinities (91-121). Palgrave Macmillan.

Online Publication Date Dec 31, 2018
Publication Date Dec 31, 2018
Deposit Date Feb 28, 2017
Publicly Available Date Jan 1, 2021
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Pages 91-121
Series Title Palgrave Studies in Prisons and Penology
Book Title New Perspectives on Prison Masculinities
Chapter Number 5
ISBN 9783319656533
Keywords prison health, prison masculinities, prisoner health, hegemonic masculinity, gender power
Public URL
Publisher URL


Nick de Viggiani - Book Chapter on Prison Masculinities 13-1-17 Final edit.pdf (525 Kb)


Copyright Statement
De Viggiani, N., “Don’t mess with me!” Enacting masculinities under a compulsory prison regime. In: Maycock, M. and Hunt, K., eds. New Perspectives on Prison Masculinities, 2018, Palgrave Macmillan, reproduced with permission of Palgrave Macmillan. This extract is taken from the author's original manuscript and has not been edited. The definitive, published, version of record is available here:

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