The clothes maketh the man: Uniforms, interaction and agency in prisons

Dr Anna Eriksson 

Monash University,

This paper will focus on the role of clothes and dress codes in prisons (staff and prisoners; uniforms or own clothes) and the impact this have on personal identify and agency; interpersonal relationships within groups; staff/prisoner relationships, and pathways for reintegration. This paper draws on 200 interviews that were collected from 14 prisons in Norway and Australia. This research clearly shows that clothes play a major role in identity construction, us/them divisions, and rehabilitation/reintegration work, which will be discussed in conjunction with suggestions for pathways and obstacles for reform of Australian prison practices.


Dr Eriksson is a previous ARC DECRA holder on the topic of comparative penology. She is a Senior Lecturer at Monash University and is currently undertaking research on prison and probation practices, ABI and neuro-disability in the criminal justice system, and restorative justice. She is the Director of the Imprisonment Observatory:


The society is devoted to promoting criminological study, research and practice in the region and bringing together persons engaged in all aspects of the field. The membership of the society reflects the diversity of persons involved in the field, including practitioners, academics, policy makers and students.

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