Using Social Theory to Analyze the Private Prison Industry By: The Dirty Durkheims
Objectives• To inform community about America’s private prison industry• To use people’s responses to blog series to show different views of private prison industry• To inform community about social theorists: – Used to explain motives behind creation of this industry – Used to show how privatizing prisons is a reflection of racial/economic injustices affecting marginalized groups
Why Private Prisons? We realized that many people are unaware of the private prison industry’s existence, so we created ablog series to spread awareness and to view people’sopinion on the subject. Each group member focusedon a different aspect of the industry and used various social theorists to further examine their topic.
Methods• Research private prison industry• Use social theorists for analysis• Create a blog series with this information
Riana’s Methods• Parallels between Foucault’s idea of docile bodies and private prison labor• Used Discipline and Punish to analyze info on prison blogs – People of all education levels critiqued negative aspects of private prisons
Larissa’s Methods• Intersection between private prisons, immigration, and race• Video about exploitation of immigrants within the private prison industry – Created by Cuentame, organization that raises awareness about issues affecting Latino community• Articles from the New York Times, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and National Public Radio (NPR)• Applied ÉmileDurkheim’s “other” theory and sociologist John Rex’s theory on race and its relationship with structural conditions
Jessie’s Methods• How Karl Marx and Max Weber’s theories correlate with how private prisons cut corners to maximize their profit• Journal article on State Punishment and Private Prisons – different aspects of the goal oriented institution of private prisons• Videos showing consequences of cutting corners in private prisons – Violence, inexperienced guards, fear• Prison Profiteers to enhance arguments
Emma’s Methods• The direct and indirect connections between the private prison industry and the school-to- prison pipeline – They both target youth of color – How does society view privatizing juvenile facilities and youth of color?
Effectiveness Using Social Media• Blog posts were shared via course website, twitter, and email
Effectiveness in Informing Public• Did not have much time to receive responses from public (2 responses on course website)• Some posts were re-tweeted/favored by random twitter users – One post shared on “PrisonReformMovement” Facebook page by twitter user – Effective in informing public through these social media platforms
Responses• 7 “likes” on the PrisonReformMovement Facebook page• 2 responses on course website• Discussion with family/friends• Parts of our project re-tweeted 3 times, 4 people favored tweets – Response from one twitteruser: “The abuse and potential for further abuse of this industry disgusts me…”
How Did this Project Challenge our Thinking about Social Theory/Problems?• Although social theorists’ work published years ago, ideas can still be applied to today’s social problems – Why social problems exist/how to solve these problems – Ex. Weber’s theory about “goal-oriented society” provides deeper analysis of why poor conditions in private prisons• Realized importance of what we’ve been learning