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Ex-Prisoners and the Transformation of Self through Higher Education

Honeywell, David (2018) Ex-Prisoners and the Transformation of Self through Higher Education. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

This study explores how experiences of higher education among ex-prisoner’s impact upon their path to desistance. It examines their initial catalysts for change and how education enabled them to re-evaluate their sense of selves and provide them with new identities. Through the use of 24 face-to-face semi-structured interviews examining the experiences of ex-prisoners who are studying for degrees, have graduated and in some cases gained successful academic positions, the participants were asked to talk about their life experiences including their childhoods, offending, prison, desistance, employment and the reasons behind why they chose to enter higher education. Their catalysts for change ranged from their experiences of prison where they encountered existential crises created by the pains of imprisonment; how others viewed them; the strengthening of social bonds; to the belief and trust afforded by others being prepared to give them a second chance. Beyond prison, they experienced prolonged periods of liminality where they became trapped in limbo between two social worlds caused by stigma, labelling and rejection. But their unfaltering resilience, persistence and belief and hope for a better future eventually enabled them to develop new identities which were further transformed by external influences as they made their transitions into ‘conventional society’. Some preferred to reject their past identities, while others merged their past and new identities to become successful in their chosen career paths. Some have remained in academe where they continue to use their past experiences to inform their teaching and research while others have become counselling professionals viewing themselves as ‘wounded healers’ by helping others with substance and alcohol issues and homelessness. But all of them used higher education as their conduit to aspire towards self-betterment, a renewed self-belief and self-concept which enabled them to transform their lives.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Desistance; Higher Education; Prisoners; Ex-Prisoners; Prison Education
Academic Units: The University of York > Sociology (York)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.759938
Depositing User: Dr David Honeywell
Date Deposited: 03 Dec 2018 16:33
Last Modified: 19 Feb 2020 13:04
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/22109

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