Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Family in the Narratives of Good Life: Performing Masculinities in the Lithuanian Correctional Facilities 1

Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Family in the Narratives of Good Life: Performing Masculinities in the Lithuanian Correctional Facilities 1

Article excerpt


Most recent work on men in correctional facilities is devoted to their adaptation strategies to prison environment (Crewe, 2007; Liebling, 2004; Liebling and Maruna, 2005; Jewkes, 2005). Some research has focused on male prisoners' relationship to their children and family (Arditti, 2005; Hairston, 1988; Thomas, 2011), incarcerated fatherhood (Arditti et al., 2005; Dyer, 2005; Hairston, 2001) and the influence of visitation to inmates' behaviour (Dhami et al., 2007; Jackson et al., 1997; Schafer, 1994). The incarceration's negative impact on family relations has also been studied (Nurse, 2004; Western et ah, 2004). In many studies, the maintenance of inmate-family relationships is cited as facilitating positive inprison behaviour, successful community reintegration, and reducing recidivism (Bales and Mears, 2008; Braman, 2004). The inmates' families have been described as a way of coping with the negative consequences of prison environment. It has been argued that families also provide inmates with support and stability after their release from prison (Martinez and Christian, 2009).

Moreover, while the development of different forms of family related to broader social changes and the transformations of intimacy in different social contexts has been discussed for some time (Beck and Beck-Gernsheim, 1995; Chambers, 2001; Giddens, 1999; 1992; Han trais, 2004), research on the relationship between family and gender of socially excluded people remains limited (A}'din et al., 2011; Maner et al., 2007). The same could be said about imprisoned men's attitudes towards the intersections of masculinity and family that provide a space for intensive struggles for power and gender identities.

The aim of this article is thus to examine the relationship between Lithuanian imprisoned men's attitudes towards masculinity and family. Masculinity is regarded here as a flexible social genre that produces regularities in the inmates' behaviour in prison interactions. We ---argue that imprisoned men's perceptions of family are inseparable from their enactment or performing of masculinity. Families are regarded, in the article, as both a symbolic resource through which prisoners narrate and construct their masculinity and as an object of good life that, in some cases, serve as an incentive to crime. In this sense, "families are the central mechanisms of informal social controls, bolstering the limited capacity of formal social controls to shape behaviour" (Clear, 2007: 95). Analysing 20 in-depth semi-structured interviews with imprisoned men in Alytus correctional facility and their criminal records, the following questions are asked in the article: What does family mean to these socially excluded men? In what way are the inmates' perceptions of family related to their different attitudes towards masculinity and masculine behaviour? What typologies of masculinity can be distinguished with regard to these men's descriptions of family and their differing loyalties to their families? With regard to the outlined questions, the data analysed in this article enable us to grasp in what ways the imprisoned men's attachment to specific visions of family foster their understanding of masculinity and masculine behaviour. The article consists of four parts. In the first part, the relationship between masculinity and crime, the role of masculinity in prison and family as an object of good life are discussed. The second part describes in detail the methodology of the research on which the article is based. The third part analyses the interviews with Lithuanian men imprisoned in Alytus correctional facility and the last part summarizes the research findings.


In analysing crimes committed by men, criminality as a male sphere remains unquestioned (Campbell, 2002). Statistical data also confirm it: imprisoned men comprise an absolute majority of jailed persons. For instance, in 2014, 7427 men and only 341 women were imprisoned for criminal offences in Lithuania (Nusikalstamumas, 2015). …

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