Embodied Surveillance and the Gendering of Punishment
• “Rather than signaling the decline of gendered organization, the equality with a vengeance era
marks shift in how gender is conceived and elaborated within the criminal justice system”
• This ethnography explores enactment of “get tough” politics in state prison for women and
considers whether implementation of supposedly gender-neutral programs and policies implies
that women’s prisons are no longer operating as “gendered organizations”
• Author demonstrates that even when women’s prisons try to mimic discipline policies of men’s
facilities, they modify disciplinary practices in response to perceived differences in offending
between men and women
• Crucial medication is use of “embodied surveillance” that differs from Foucault’s analysis of
penal surveillance mechanisms
• Research that focuses on men challenged criminology’s exclusive focus on male prisoners and
problematized conditions in women’s prisons
• Studies of women’s prisons raise important questions regarding how gender organizes structure
of practice of punishment
• Acker’s concept of gendered organizations- organizations not gender neutral entities through
which gendered bodies pass; argues that organizational structure is fundamentally gendered (i.e.
gender wage difference)
o Acker concludes that gender is “present in the organization’s processes, practices,
images, and ideologies, and distributions of power”
• Britton’s research applied Acker’s concepts to prisons; her research explores inmate supervision
as form of work and considers how job of guarding female inmates became feminized
• Intent of this research to explore how gender is implicated in mechanisms of surveillance and
punishment and to examine why it figures so prominently in how punishment is conceived at
• McCorkel argues that punishment and surveillance are gendered concepts in sense that they are
enacted differently in men’s and women’s institutions and that differences in penal practice are
legitimated within prison organization by conceptualizing female inmates as both “gender
deviants” and “deviant criminals”
Foucault, Prison, and Gender
• According to Foucault- the objective of modern disciplinary institutions and surveillance
mechanisms is to produce “docile and useful bodies”
o Foucault treats the body as if it were one- as if the bodily experiences of men and women
did not differ
• Because organizations are not gender neutral, their policies and practices will both activate and
sustain differentiation on basis of gender
• Historical studies find that the purpose of disciplining bodies of women in reformatory system
not for work in paid labor market (as it was for men) but for reproductive labor in domestic
• Rafter’s work finds that rape and sexual assault on female inmates by male guards serves as
mechanism for maintaining institutional order and reinforcing men’s dominance over women • More punitive justice system has resulted in more females in prison- not because women are
actually committing more crime than before- specially true for drug-related offences
• Women’s prisons have begun to resemble architecture of men’s
• One characteristic of women’s prisons that remains essentially unchanged is the limited
availability of meaningful treatment, educational, and vocational programming
• Programming in prisons ignores complexity of women’s criminality-ways in which offending is
liked to experiences of physical and sexual victimization, poverty and racism
• Importance of Panopticon and early penitentiary system for present study is that this period in
history represents not only birth of modern prison but emergence of system of social control
based on surveillance
• **panopticon represented style of surveillance that was continuous, visible and yet unverifiable”
o Given this, the act of social control becomes one of self-control
o Conform to institutional rules because of fear of being watching but also internalize them
o The target is the mind, not the body
• Therapy is a form of social control because it challenges the client perceptions about the self by
providing him with a reinterpretation of the behaviors, attitudes, feelings and events occurring
through his life
• Observer and observed are known to one another
• Averifiable form of surveillance
• Unable to discern whether or by whom they were being watched, inmates in
panopticon prevented from even thought of revolt
• Stopping inmates from becoming friends with each other to avoid solidarity
• In sum, the purpose of surveillance for punishment in PRW (project rehabilitate women) and east
state is threefold
o Surveillance is a repressive device in that it is used as a mechanism of control designed to
prevent occurrence of rule-breaking behavior- beliefs about women’s lack of
“socialization” and “structure” primary discursive mechanism used to justify program’s
extensive use of repression and surveillance
o Surveillance is productive- surveillance yields information about women that is central to
interpretive process and thus diagnostics of therapy
o Embodied nature of surveillance mechanism functions to legitimate therapeutic diagnoses
Gendering of punishment
• Surveillance in women’s prisons intimately related to process of diagnosis, not simply existing to
prevent occurrence of behaviors that threaten institutional security
• Women considered “deviant criminals” in the sense that their choice of crimes is seemingly
inexplicable- their crimes not seen as rational responses to structural conditions in the way men’s
o Psychological rather than structural explanations to account for women’s criminality
• Get tough policies and hard core disciplinary practices legitimated according to theories and
characterizations of “typical” criminal • Widespread acknowledgement that women are difference but source of difference attributed to
psychological rather than structural elements
o High rates of offending and recidivism not seen as failure of system but as failure of the
• Bentham’s Panopticon is an architectural design
• Atower in the centre with cells around it facing the tower
• "perfectly individualized and constantly visible”
• reverses principles of dungeon and its 3 functions (to enclose, deprive of light and to hide)-
preserves the first and eliminates the other two
• **Visibility is a trap
• each prisoner is confined to their cell from which he can be seen by a supervisor
• “he is seen, but he does not see; he is the object of information”- prisoners cannot see one
another but the guard in the tower can see all of them
o eliminates danger of inmates plotting together to attempt an escape, future crimes and
eliminates danger of inmates from one another
• “the major effect of the Panopticon: to induce in the inmate a state of conscious and permanent
visibility that assures automatic functioning of power”
• the architectural apparatus is the machine for creating and sustaining power relationship
independent of the person who exercises it- inmates are caught up in power situation in which
they learn to self-govern due to the fear of being watched at any given time
• visible aspect: the tower that the prisoners see at all times means there is a possibility someone is
watching them; unverifiable: inmate doesn’t know when they are being watched but he can be
sure that he may be being watched **Therefore, power is visible and unverifiable
• eliminates need for bars, chains and heavy locks- all that was needed was that separations be
clear and openings well arranged
• Panopticon also used as a lab to conduct experiments, alter behaviour and train/correct
• “an inspector arriving unexpectedly at centre of Panopticon will be able to judge at a glance,
without anything being concealed from him , how the entire establishment is functioning”
• due to its mechanisms of observation, it gains in efficiency and in ability to penetrate into men’s
behaviour- knowledge follows advances of power, discovering new objects of knowledge over
all the surfaces on which power is exercised
• marks the transformation of the disciplinary program
• makes it possible to perfect exercise of power-reduces number of those who exercise it (person in
the central tower) but increases the number of those on whom it is exercised
• “power of mind over mind”- use of power without any physical instrument
• “arranges things in such a way that the exercise of power if not added on from the outside, like a
rigid, heavy constraint, to the functions it invests, but is so subtly present in them as to increase
their efficiency by itself increasing its own points of contact” • productive increase of power can be assured only if it can be exercised continuously in the very
foundations of society and it functions outside violent, discontinuous forms that are bound up
with the exercise of sovereignty
• panopticism: is the discipline mechanism; functional mechanism that must improve exercise of
power by making it lighter, more rapid, more effective, a design of subtle coercion for society to
Goffman, Erving. 1963. ‘Stigma and Social Identity’. Stigma. New York,
Greeks, who were apparently strong on visual aids, originated the term stigma to refer to bodily signs
designed to expose something unusual and bad about the moral status of the signifier.
Moreover, two layers of metaphor were added to the term: the first referred to bodily signs of holy
grace that took the form of eruptive blossoms on the skin; second, a medical allusion to this religious
allusion, referred to bodily signs of physical disorder.
society establishes the means of categorizing persons and the complement of attributes felt to be
ordinary and natural for members of each of these categories. Social settings establish the categories
of persons likely to be encountered there.
ex. when a stranger comes into our presence, then, first appearances are likely to enable us to
anticipate his category and attributes, his ‘social identity’
we come to the realization that all along we had been making certain assumptions as to what the
individual before us ought to be.
the demands we make might better be called demands made ‘in effect’ and the character we impute to
the individual might better be seen as an imputation made in potential retrospect - a characterization
‘in effect’ a virtual social identity. The category and attributes he could in fact be proved to possess
will be called his actual social identity
one may be bad and immoral, dangerous and a threat to society.
this stranger may possess attributes that make him different from others in the category of persons
available for him to be, and of a less desirable kind - in the extreme, a person who is quite thoroughly
bad, or dangerous or weak. He is thus reduced in our minds from a whole and usual person to a
tainted, discounted one. Such an attribute is a stigma, especially when its discrediting effect is very
extensive; sometimes it is also called a failing, a shortcoming, a handicap
note, too, that not all undesirable attributes are at issue, but only those which are incongruous with
our stereotype of what a given type of individual should be. -
the term sigma, then, will be used to refer to an attribute that is deeply discrediting, but it should be
seen that a language of relationships, not attributes is really needed.
stigma, then, is really a special kind of relationship between attribute and stereotype,
three, grossly different types of stigma may be mentioned. The first are abominations of the body -
the various physical deformities. Next there are blemishes of individual character perceived as weak
will, domineering or unnatural passions. Finally there are the tribal stigma of race, nation, and
In all, an individual who might have been received easily in ordinary social intercourse possesses a
trait that can obtrude itself upon attention and turn those of us whom he meets away form hi,
breaking the claim that his other attributes have on us.
We exercise varieties of discrimination, through which we effectively, if often unthinkingly, reduce
his life chances. We construct a stigma theory, an ideology to explain his inferiority and account for
the danger he represents, sometimes rationalizing an animosity based on other differences, such as
those of social class.
we tend to impute a wide range of imperfections on the basis of the original one
individuals shouts at the blind as if they were deaf or attempts to lift them as if they were crippled
the distinction is between realizing a norm and merely supporting it. The issue of stigma does not
arise here, but only where there is some expectation on all sides that those in a given category should
not only support a particular norm but also realize it.
the stigmatized individual tends to hold the same beliefs about identity that we do; this is a pivotal
the central feature of the stigmatized individual’s situation in life can now be state. It is a question of
what is often if vaguely, called ‘acceptance’
the stigmatized individual is likely to use his stigma for ‘secondary gains,’ as an excuse for ill success
that has come his way for others reasons.
- mixed contacts- the moments when stigmatized and normal are in the same ‘social situation;
- the very anticipation o f such contacts can of course lead normals and the stigmatized to arrange life
so as to avoid them. Presumably this will have larger consequences for the stigmatized, since more
arranging will usually be necessary on their part:
the stigmatized individual may find that he feels unsure of how we normals will identify him and
when stigmatize arises the sense of the not knowing what the others present are ‘really’ thinking
about him -
the stigmatized individual at least the ‘visibly’ stigmatized one will have special reasons for feeling
that mixed socially situations make for anxious unanchored interactions
given what both the stigmatized and we normals introduced into mixed social situations it is
understandable that all will not go smoothly.
In social situations with an individual known or perceived to have a stigma, we are likely then to
employ categorizations that do not fit, and we and he are likely to experience uneasiness,
The Own and the Wise
- discrepancy may exists between an individual’s virtue and actual identity. This discrepancy, when
known about or apparent spoils his social identity; it has the effect of cutting him off from society
and from himself so that he stands a discredited person facing an unaccpeting world.
“There Oughtta Be a LawAgainst Bitches’: Masculinity Lessons in PoliceAcademy Training -
Anastasia Prokos and Irene Padavic
Academy training teaches female and male recruits that masculinity is an essential requirement for the
practice of policing and that women do not belong. Through the academy, male students developed a
form of masculinity that 1)excluded women students and exaggerated differences between them and
men; and 2) denigrated women in general. Hence, masculinity that is characteristic of police forces and
is partly responsible for women’s low representation on them is not produced exclusively on the job, but
is taught in police academies as a subtext of professional socialization.
- gender operates in organizations through several interacting processes; the construction of division
along gender lines, the construction of symbols that reinforce those divisions, interactions between
groups that produce gendered social structures, and, as outcomes of these processes, the production
of gendered components of individual identity.
- the need to make men and masculinity is to exert power.
- ‘the hidden curriculum’ is taught in training camps. Hence, is taught obliquely by teachers and
students instructs students about the particular form of masculinity that is lauded in police culture, the
relationship between extreme masculinity and police work, and the nature of the groups that fall
‘inside’ and ‘outside’ of the culture of policings
- academy women became tools in the construction of boundaries that delineated who was in and who
Masculinity and policing
- masculinity is a social construction reproduced through everyday interactions.
- hegemonic masculinity is a central defining concept in the culture of police work in the united state.
- hence, police men strongly believe that women are incapable of being good police officers
- both mangers and rank and file officers share a myth of policing as action-filled, exciting,
adventurous, and dangerous. The reality is that policing involves a lot of paper work and downplay
the femininely labeled aspect of the job, such as paperwork and social service. - male co-workers sexually harass women on and off duty.
The hidden curriculum
- refers to the lessons schools teach students that go beyond the explicit curriculum.
- this concepts reforest to the gender reproduction of gender inequality.
- the explicit curriculum was gender neutral; the hidden curriculum was riddled with gendered lessons.
The ostensibly gender-neutral curriculum of the academy had as its stated goal the production of
professional and competent police officers, regardless of gender.
despite the gender neutral formal curriculum, hegemonic masculinity continually reappeared in the
hidden curriculum, inserted by male instructors and students via their treatment of each other and of
Treating women as outsiders
- men in the police academy treated women students as outsider by using gendered language,
eliminating them from classroom examples and excluding them form bonding experiences.
- women learned that they were not considered members of the ‘in-group’, which was defined by
- female police officers did not exist in the instructor’s world.
- men students acted as if the classroom were a male preserve by creating bonding experiences that
- in all male instructors and students participated in constructing an ideology in which the term
‘women cop’ was oxymoronic. Through language and bonding experiences it became clear that the
ungroup in addition to other characteristics was exclusively male. Thus, women and men learned that
women are outsiders in the police world, and that women police officers can be ignored as exceptions
who must learn to adjust to the existing environment.
Exaggerating Gender Differences
- male instructors and students exaggerated differences between themselves and the women they
encountered and claimed that women’s differences made them inferior to men.
- students of both sexes learned that women and men by nature are very different and that gender
differences supersede other differences, such as those stemming from race, ethnicity, or social class.
- instructors treated women and men differently based on the stereotype that women were not naturally
fitted at fighting.
- male students and instructors emphasizing gender differences and acting on stereotypes of women’s
fragility can damage women’s progress in policing.
- Students and instructors perpetuated the idea that women are not as qualified for police jobs as are
men because they are different and inferior.
- Women recruits learned that they would be treated differently from male recruits at the academy and
that men viewed them as intrinsically less capable and less qualified. Men learned that women are
fundamentally different and thus are inadequate as police officers.
De-ingrating and Objectifying Women - men and women are taught that being male is better than being female. Men learned to disparage
women by verbally denigrating and objectifying them, and women students learned that such
behaviour is condoned by the institution they seek to enter.
- instructors chose films that degraded and objectified women, and men students learned from such
course material and from fellow students reactions that objectification of women was acceptable.
They also learned that women are not as important or valuable as men.
Resisting Powerful Women’sAuthority
- students treated female instructors with less courtesy and respect. Male students lean red that why
need not accept women as superiors, or perhaps even as equals. Female students learned that male
police officers may not listen to them or accept their advance were they to be in positions of authority
or even equality. Because women cops will be in situations where it is crucial to relay informations to
men officers who then may not take it seriously, this lack of respect may give rise to second thoughts
for women would-be officers.
- although there is no law against women entering the police academy, the hidden curriculum there
taught recruits that dominant masculinity is necessary to performing their duties as cops.
30 decades of research have indicated that informal barriers that male co-workers and supervisors
establish to counter the threat of women’s entry into traditionally male occupations.
men’s domination of this particular occupation so resistant to change when women have successfully
entered other formerly male domains, such as law.
the exclusion of women from the means of organized violence, including instruction in the use of
weapons and military technique is not accidental.To keep most women out of any political positions
with influence over state force. Control over institutionalized violence is a core component of men’s
authority in western cultures. Thus, while police culture, like the culture of many other male-
dominated occupations, defines itself through masculinity, it is perhaps the association not only with