Social Infrastructure in the Society of Captives

Associate Professor Anna Eriksson1, Professor Dominique Moran2, Ms Abby Wild1

1Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
2Birmingham University, Birmingham, United Kingdom

This presentation explores how the concept of ‘social infrastructure’, normally applied to urban design, can be applied in innovative ways to understanding daily life in prisons. When applied to cities, social infrastructure is defined as “the physical places and organizations that shape the way people interact” (Klinenberg 2018: 5). Expanding on Klinenberg’s definition, we put forward a view of social infrastructure as the places, programs and opportunities within the prison environment where prisoners have the opportunity to establish positive human connections, potentially benefiting staff and prisoners alike. This research looks at the small spaces, where positive human interaction and restorative, as opposed to depletive, experiences are happening. A core innovation of this project is a new proposed conceptualisation of social infrastructure in carceral environments that is centred around a place-activity-outcome nexus, which will serve as a basis for a new theoretical framework and provide a tangible focus for fieldwork and analysis. Through introducing this concept into the study of prison life, the research that are we undertaking over the next three years in prisons across Australia will explore how a robust and healthy social infrastructure in prisons can reduce violence between groups, help increase effectiveness of programs and rehabilitation, and ultimately, support a model of practice that aims to release people who can be good neighbours.


Associate Professor Anna Eriksson is an international expert in comparative penology, restorative justice, and criminal justice reform. She has a proven track record in fostering interdisciplinary research focused on criminal justice reform, including her role as the chief investigator on a newly awarded ARC Discovery Grant to investigate social infrastructure in prison.

Abby Wild is a Research Fellow at the Monash Sustainable Development Institute, where she works on a range of environment and social inclusion projects with government and industry partners. She specialises in participatory methodologies, and is a Research Associate on ARC-funded research into social infrastructure in prisons.


Aug 30 2021


8:00 am - 6:00 pm