Navigating moral dimensions and lateral power – The experiences of men with sexual convictions and histories of sexual abuse serving sentences in a therapeutic community

Anna Kotova, Geraldine Akerman

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Abstract

This article examines the moral world of therapeutic penal communities through the lens of the experiences of men with sexual convictions and histories of sexual victimisation. Drawing on the concepts of lateral power and stigma, we discuss how Therapeutic Communities (TCs), which are intensely moral communities, operate within three moral dimension: the institutional set of therapeutic norms, the con code, and the broader sociocultural set of norms that intensely stigmatise sexual offending. Specifically, the focus of this article is how these moral norms shape the manner in which later power is used, navigated and resisted within TCs. We explore the manner in which TC processes are used as tools to enact lateral power over men with sexual offences, and how the three moral dimensions create a messy social moral environment within the TC. Importantly, we explore how the residents navigate the morally complex dual identity of offender and victim. We also note that the moral messiness, and the conflicts between the moral dimensions, also raise challenges for how vertical institutional power is exercised. Finally, we point out that the neoliberal individualism inherent in today’s sociocultural moral dimension further shapes how men with sexual offences experience the moral community of the TC.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalIncarceration
Volume3
Issue number1
Early online date19 Feb 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2022

Keywords

  • Lateral power
  • penal power
  • prisons
  • sexual offending
  • stigma
  • therapeutic community

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