Out There/In Here

Masculinity, Violence and Prisoning

By Elizabeth Comack  

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Elizabeth Comack explores the complicated connections between masculinity and violence in the lives of men incarcerated at a provincial prison. Moving between the spaces of ‘out there’ and ‘in here,’ the discussion traces the men’s lives in terms of their efforts to ‘do’ masculinity and the place of violence in that undertaking. In drawing out these connections, similarities with the lives of other men become apparent. In the process, we also learn that prisons are not a solution to public concerns about crime and violence. Prison is a gendered space in which violence is a systemic feature and the pressures on men to ‘do’ masculinity are even more pronounced. Sending racialized and economically marginalized men to prison only encourages and reaffirms aggression, dominance and the exercise of brute power as legitimate social practices.

“A uniquely vivid and readable account of how masculinities and violence are constructed both in the community ‘out there’ and in prison, ‘in here.’ Drawing on life-history interviews of incarcerated men, Elizabeth Comack offers a fascinating analysis of the varying and interconnecting masculine and violent pathways by these men and how their changing and often contradictory social practices are related to local and regional hegemonic masculinities. Out There/In Here is a timely, scholarly and captivating contribution to the literature in criminology, masculinities, and gender studies–I highly recommend it!”

— James W. Messerschmidt, Professor of Sociology/Women and Gender Studies, University of Southern Maine

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Contents

  • Introduction
  • Out There: Boys’ Lives
  • In Here: The Care/Custody Mangle
  • Out There: Men’s Lives
  • In Here: The Prisoning of Men
  • Conclusion
  • Appendix

Authors

  • Elizabeth Comack

    University of Manitoba

    Elizabeth Comack is a Distinguished Professor Emerita in the Department of Sociology and Criminology at the University of Manitoba. Over the past four decades she has written and conducted research on a variety of social justice topics. Her most recent book is Coming Back to Jail: Women, Trauma, and Criminalization. Elizabeth’s current research projects stem from her involvement in the Manitoba Research Alliance, a large consortium of academics and community partners engaged in SSHRC-funded research that addresses poverty in Indigenous and inner-city communities, and with Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada, which is conducting a project entitled “Meeting Survivors’ Needs: Gender-Based Violence and the Criminal Justice System in Inuit Nunangat.”

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