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NCJ Number: 97747 Find in a Library
Title: Group Dynamics and the Prison Guard Subculture - Is the Subculture an Impediment to Helping Inmates?
Journal: International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology  Volume:29  Issue:1  Dated:(1985)  Pages:79-90
Author(s): L X Lombardo
Date Published: 1985
Page Count: 12
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This examination of literature on correctional officers and its relationship to concepts from the social psychology of group behavior concludes that under normal prison conditions, factors which would promote a guard subculture are weak or absent.
Abstract: Under conditions of stress, however, subculture values are capable of mobilization. The literature on correctional officers has produced conflicting findings about the uniformity of values and attitudes among correctional guards. At issue is the degree to which the attitudes and behaviors of individual guards are related to their membership in this occupational group. The assumption that prison guards exist as a group phenomenon pervades the literature. The dynamics of guard group behavior has only recently been considered. Two factors have been considered: (1) group cohesion, the degree to which members desire to remain in the group and (2) reference groups behavior, relating or aspiring to relate oneself psychologically to some social unit. Elements of these factors include motivations for joining, incentives for staying (group goals, cooperative interdependence, leadership, decisionmaking patterns, structural characteristics, and group atmosphere), and group solidarity in relation to external threats. The research of Cartwright has shown evidence of poor communication, competition, and lack of normative consensus, all indicating weakness in factors which foster group cohesion. However, under threats to the status quo, the guards emerge as a group. The sample sizes and research methods may explain the contradictory findings of earlier research. A focus on group dynamics of prison guard behaviors is central to understanding subcultural characteristics of this group. Twenty-four references are listed.
Index Term(s): Correctional personnel attitudes; Inmate staff relations; Subculture theory; Work attitudes
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