The impact of ‘life’ behind bars: understanding space, impression management and masculinity through former inmate narratives
Focusing on the architecture of carceral space, ‘impression management’ strategies, and masculinity performances within incarceration, this study examines the extent to which carceral space impacts the identity and behaviour of inmates throughout their interactions, both within the prison system and the inner-city. Qualitative, semi-structured interviews were conducted with ten men who experienced periods of incarceration in Manitoba. Their narratives indicate that alternative spatial theorizing is needed to conceptualize the prison space—in terms of the prison as a ‘place,’ as well as ‘social,’ and ‘carceral’ space—and that there is a significant amount of impression and emotional management needed when interacting with other inmates. Recidivism, finding meaningful employment, and building positive social networks with family and friends on the outside remain persistent obstacles for community reintegration. Examining the intersections of spatiality, masculinity, and identity allows us to explore alternative processes to restore (former) inmates into their communities moving forward.