An examination of the function of education in prisons: social, political and penal persepectives

Poole, Helen Louise (2016). An examination of the function of education in prisons: social, political and penal persepectives. University of Birmingham. Ed.D.

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This study aims to examine the function of education in prisons through the application of a unique analytical model. Prisoner education has become a primary focus for the rehabilitation of offenders, evidenced more recently by the announcement and abandonment of a network of privately run ‘Secure Colleges’ to replace the existing estate for young offenders. This research aims to form a better understanding of what such education provision is designed to achieve through an examination the social, political and penal context in which it has developed.

Building on the work of Foucault (1979), Markus (1993) and King (1980) amongst others, the present study triangulates data from political discourse, prison architecture, and still images of prison learning spaces using an analytical model based on research findings from philosophical, sociological, penal and educational theories.

The main findings of the study are that the enduring function of prison education is the control of the prisoner-class, which is highly related to the macro-management of the penal system (reducing reoffending) and economic production. The author argues such an approach ignores individual agency, and negatively impacts on approaches to prison education through the marginalisation of educational theory and pedagogic best practice.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ed.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ed.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: School of Education
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
L Education > L Education (General)
L Education > LC Special aspects of education


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