Abstract

Recent research in prison sociology has described prisoners’ resistance as an exercise of agency within restrictive settings. This study argues that the emphasis on agency has obscured the role of other factors that contribute to prisoner behaviour, including structure. Using an historical case study, I illustrate several ways in which prisoners’ friction and resistance are not only reactions against the prison regime, but are also enabled, constructed, and shaped by it. This study produces a two-dimensional framework that locates friction and resistance within a nexus of agency and structure. Incorporating structural determinants of prisoner behaviour, while recognizing the role of agency, allows a fuller, more accurate understanding of prisoner behaviour.

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