It's Not OK to be Not OK

Saunders, Gary and Nichols, Helen (2022) It's Not OK to be Not OK. In: Crime, Justice and the Human Condition, 12-13 September 2022, Oxford (UK).

It's Not OK to be Not OK

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The research upon which this paper is based was conducted in 2021 and explored the wellbeing of governor grade prison staff in England, Wales and Scotland. The research participants were recruited from the Prison Governors Association membership. In total, 63 participants engaged in qualitative interviews during the study. The findings of the research highlighted several key issues providing insight into the occupational experiences of governor grade staff and the challenges they face in their working and home lives, including during the Covid-19 Pandemic. For the purpose of this paper, focus will be given to interview participants’ reference to ‘macho culture’. When analysing the qualitative data in conjunction with existing literature, it became clear that more specifically, participants were referring to ‘masculinity contest culture’. Masculinity contest culture (MCC) is a multidimensional construct that captures hegemonic forms of masculinity in the workplace (Berdahl et al., 2018). Hegemonic masculinities are characterised by dominance, aggression, and competition. The four dimensions of MCC include: 1) Show No Weakness (avoiding displays of femininity, such as vulnerability and emotions), (2) Strength and Stamina (valorising physical strength and stamina), (3) Put Work First (expectations to work long hours and put work ahead of family and any other external obligations) and (4) Dog-Eat-Dog (a hypercompetitive environment pitting one person against another) (Workman-Stark, 2019). Adopting the four dimensions of MCC as a structure, this paper will explore the prevalence and interpretation of masculinity contest culture as experienced by governor grade prison staff in their working lives and how this created a cultural barrier to accessing wellbeing provision.

Keywords:Prison, Governors, Wellbeing, Masculinity, Culture
Subjects:M Law > M211 Criminal Law
L Social studies > L320 Gender studies
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Social & Political Sciences
ID Code:52068
Deposited On:19 Dec 2022 09:49

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