The Virtual Reality of Imprisonment: The Impact of Social Media on Prisoner Agency and Prison Structure in Russian prisons

Authors

  • Laura Piacentini Professor of Criminology, The Schoolof Social Work and Social Policy, University of Strathclyde,
  • Elena Katz The School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford

Keywords:

Russia, prisoners, agency, social media, structure, absentism, Rusia, reclusos, agencia, redes sociales, estructura, ausencia

Abstract

Prison agencies around the world are reporting a rise in the use of illicit communication devices in prison. Nevertheless, there have been no criminological studies examining prisoners’ online behavior. Using Russia as a case study, this paper reports findings from new research on prisoners’ illicit internet use and the effects on prisoner agency and prison structure. Our main finding is that Russian penality sits at the nexus of two processes. First, penality is de-institutionalised whereby the prison, discursively speaking, is no longer fixed to a built form. Second, penality is reflexively re-territorialised by placing prisoner agency onto a third space. The paper presents a new conceptual framework of prisoners as absent, which reveals Russian penality as culturally contingent and politically resilient. The interplay between de-institutionalisation and re-territorialisation has produced a new penal imaginary - a carceral motif for the twenty first century - in the form of a virtual world.

Con Rusia como estudio de caso, este artículo informa acerca de los hallazgos de nuevas investigaciones sobre el uso ilícito de Internet por parte de los reclusos, y de los efectos sobre la agencia de los reclusos y sobre la estructura de la prisión. Nuestro principal hallazgo es que las prisiones de Rusia son el punto de encuentro de dos procesos: primero, la vida en prisión se desinstitucionaliza, de modo que la prisión, en sentido discursivo, ya no está vinculada a una edificación; segundo, la existencia carcelaria se reterritorializa de forma reflexiva, a través de la traslación de la agencia del prisionero a un tercer espacio. El artículo presenta un marco conceptual nuevo de prisioneros en ausencia, que revela que la vida carcelaria de Rusia es culturalmente contingente y políticamente resiliente. La interrelación entre desinstitucionalización y reterritorialización ha producido un nuevo imaginario - un motivo carcelario para el siglo XXI - en forma de mundo virtual.

Available from: https://doi.org/10.35295/osls.iisl/0000-0000-0000-0933

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Author Biographies

Laura Piacentini, Professor of Criminology, The Schoolof Social Work and Social Policy, University of Strathclyde,

Laura Piacentini, PhD, FRSE is Professor of Criminology at the School of Social Work and Social Policy, University of Strathclyde. She is currently the Director of Research and Knowledge Exchange, and Associate Director The Scottish Centre for Crime and Criminal Justice, which is a consortium of the Universities of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Stirling and Edinburgh. She is Co-Editor in Chief of the leading Criminolgoy journal, Criminology & Criminal Justice. Laura has established expertise in cultures of punishment in Russia and has been engaged in empirical and theoretical work in the region for 23 years.

Elena Katz, The School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford

Dr Elena Katz

Senior Researcher and Honorary Research Associate.

 

 

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Published

14-07-2017

How to Cite

Piacentini, L. and Katz, E. (2017) “The Virtual Reality of Imprisonment: The Impact of Social Media on Prisoner Agency and Prison Structure in Russian prisons”, Oñati Socio-Legal Series, 8(2), pp. 183–204. Available at: https://opo.iisj.net/index.php/osls/article/view/895 (Accessed: 14 April 2024).