'Time...lost time': exploring how partners of long-term prisoners experience the temporal pains of imprisonment

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This article identifies and examines the temporal pains of imprisonment as experienced by female partners of male long-term prisoners in the UK. Drawing on in-depth interviews with 33 women, it discusses how long sentences interrupted the women’s normative life courses, shaped their daily lives, and resulted in them having to negotiate living within both prison time and outside time. It also highlights the need to go beyond the focus on concentrated family time and consider the extent to which prisoners and their families are deprived of mundane but meaningful family moments. In exploring these temporal pains of imprisonment, it is argued that time is not just a critical aspect of a long-term prisoner’s sentence, but also of his partner’s experiences. Finally, this article seeks to take the scholarship beyond the assumption that a long-term prisoner’s partner exists in a temporal limbo, and discusses the processes of change and adaptation the women interviewed used to cope with their partners' long sentences.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)478-498
Number of pages21
JournalTime & Society
Issue number2
Early online date23 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019


  • Prison time, everyday time, family time, imprisonment, life course, temporality

ASJC Scopus subject areas