CRM 2306 Lecture Notes - Lecture 8: Solitary Confinement, Total Institution, Erving Goffman

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Lecture 8
Disidentifying activities:
Symbolic implications  incompatibility with self.
Ex. Goffman says that in total institutions like for example in the military, when soldiers are
given useless little tasks that make them feel completely useless.
Exposure to contamination:
Total institutions = total exposure
-Emotional exposure ex forced counselling, anger
-Physical exposure ex toilets in the cells not covered,
-Forces social relationships ex roommates, or just fellow inmates
-Exposure of significant relationships: your significant relationships may be tainted because
they can’t stay private, like mail can be read and such, therapy etc.
Inmates are living in a place where you have no control over yourself, or very little.
Built in Privilege system in total institution:
-House rules: follow rules of conduct, formal proscriptions and prescriptions that will govern
the behaviour of people in total institutions.
-Rewards: privileges, possibilities for inmates that do as their told, obtaining privileges will
make an inmate feel better about themselves. Ex of rewards: better work, more smoke breaks
etc.
-Punishment: consequences for not following the rules ex solitary confinement.
Resistance of inmates: sometimes they do it to maintain some kind of autonomy.
-Messing up: what inmates are going to do when they engage in forbidden activities and then
they allow themselves to get caught or they understand that there is a strong likely hood to get
caught, then they submit to punishment. Ex attempting to escape, fighting, getting drunk etc
This is a mechanism for inmates to illustrate their resentment of being in this place, its also
showing that they don’t care about the punishment, they’ll do what they want.
-Secondary adjustments: not direct challenges, they allow inmates to obtain forbidden
satisfactions or to obtain permitted satisfactions in forbidden ways. Most evident in prisons
rather than other total institutions. Provides inmates with the sense that they are still their own
person. Some control.
Playing the opposites: allows inmates to practice their autonomy, act as their own person.
-Adjustment strategy
-Assumption  authority used against inmates wishes. What the inmates want is the opposite of
what they will get so they play the opposites and pretend they want the opposite of what they
really want so that they get what they want.
-Reverse psychology  it’s a persuasive technique, saying the opposite of what you want so you
get what you want.
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Document Summary

Goffman says that in total institutions like for example in the military, when soldiers are given useless little tasks that make them feel completely useless. Physical exposure ex toilets in the cells not covered, Forces social relationships ex roommates, or just fellow inmates. Exposure of significant relationships: your significant relationships may be tainted because they can"t stay private, like mail can be read and such, therapy etc. Inmates are living in a place where you have no control over yourself, or very little. House rules: follow rules of conduct, formal proscriptions and prescriptions that will govern the behaviour of people in total institutions. Rewards: privileges, possibilities for inmates that do as their told, obtaining privileges will make an inmate feel better about themselves. Ex of rewards: better work, more smoke breaks etc. Punishment: consequences for not following the rules ex solitary confinement. Resistance of inmates: sometimes they do it to maintain some kind of autonomy.

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