Skip to main content
Back to Top

 

“It was basically college to us”: Poverty, prison, and emerging adulthood

Date Added to Library: 
Monday, January 4, 2016 - 11:50
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 
10.1080/10875549.2012.695923
Priority: 
normal
Individual Author: 
Comfort, Megan
Reference Type: 
Research Methodology: 
Publisher: 
Published Date: 
2012
Published Date (Text): 
2012
Publication: 
Journal of Poverty
Volume: 
16
Issue Number: 
3
Page Range: 
308-322
Year: 
2012
Language(s): 
Abstract: 

With the tremendous rise in the United States' incarceration rates over the last four decades, historically high numbers of young African Americans are spending their “emerging adulthood” (as theorized by Arnett) in close contact with the penitentiary. In contrast to the exploration of future possibilities facilitated by academic, military, and professional institutions geared toward people in this life stage, imprisonment typically restricts one's social, occupational, and civic opportunities during and after confinement. In this article, I draw on in-depth interviews with young men who had recently exited state prison and their intimate partners to probe the meanings of incarceration for emerging adults in the neoliberal era. This investigation invokes Merton and Barber's concept of sociological ambivalence, Blankenship's discussion of sociological thriving, and Bourdieu's notion of amor fati to analyze the paradoxically positive accounts offered by young people when describing their early experiences with the prison. I argue that these narratives must be interpreted in the broader context of diminished social welfare and intensified socioeconomic disadvantage that force poor people to turn to a punitive institution as a “resource” for the social goods distributed through valorized channels to their more privileged peers. This analysis invites further research by highlighting the necessity of developing a thorough understanding of the dominant role of the prison as a shaping institution at a critical juncture in the lives of those born into poverty. (author abstract)

Geographic Focus: 
Page Count: 
15
Share/Save
Research Notes: 
Relevance?

The SSRC is here to help you! Do you need more information on this record?

If you are unable to access the full-text of the article from the Public URL provided, please email our Librarians for assistance at ssrc@selfsufficiencyresearch.org.

In addition to the information on this record provided by the SSRC, you may be able to use the following options to find an electronic copy from an online subscription service or your local library:

  • Worldcat to find an electronic copy from an online subscription service
  • Google Scholar to discover other full text options