The Society of Captives: A Study of a Maximum Security Prison

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Overview

The Society of Captives, first published in 1958, is a classic of modern criminology and one of the most important books ever written about prison.

Gresham Sykes wrote the book at the height of the Cold War, motivated by the world's experience of fascism and communism to study the closest thing to a totalitarian system in American life: a maximum security prison. His analysis calls into question the extent to which prisons can succeed in their attempts to control every facet of life—or whether the strong bonds between prisoners make it impossible to run a prison without finding ways of "accommodating" the prisoners.

Re-released now with a new introduction by Bruce Western and a new epilogue by the author, The Society of Captives will continue to serve as an indispensable text for coming to terms with the nature of modern power.

A sociological look into the life of the individuals in prison--a classic in the field.

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Editorial Reviews

New Statesman
Praise for Princeton's original edition: [A] remarkable study by a scrupulously honest, non-captive observer of the real meaning of captivity.
— C. H. Rolph
American Journal of Sociology
Sykes's perspective simultaneously on all parties in the prison's social system is unique, and his interpretation is profound.
— Daniel Galaser
Psychiatric Quarterly
The book should be read by all who are interested in, or dealing with, those convicted of crimes. No ready solution is offered, but the problems are brought forth forcefully.
American Journal of Sociology - Daniel Galaser
Sykes's perspective simultaneously on all parties in the prison's social system is unique, and his interpretation is profound.
New Statesman - C. H. Rolph
Praise for Princeton's original edition: [A] remarkable study by a scrupulously honest, non-captive observer of the real meaning of captivity.
From the Publisher
Praise for Princeton's original edition: [A] remarkable study by a scrupulously honest, non-captive observer of the real meaning of captivity."—C. H. Rolph, New Statesman

"Sykes's perspective simultaneously on all parties in the prison's social system is unique, and his interpretation is profound."—Daniel Galaser, American Journal of Sociology

"The book should be read by all who are interested in, or dealing with, those convicted of crimes. No ready solution is offered, but the problems are brought forth forcefully."Psychiatric Quarterly

New Statesman
Praise for Princeton's original edition: "[A] remarkable study by a scrupulously honest, non-captive observer of the real meaning of captivity.
— C. H. Rolph
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691130644
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 3/12/2007
  • Series: Princeton Classic Editions Ser.
  • Pages: 204
  • Sales rank: 510,190
  • Product dimensions: 5.54 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.53 (d)

Meet the Author

Gresham M. Sykes is Professor of Sociology Emeritus at the University of Virginia. He is the author of many books, including "Social Problems in America" and "Crime and Society", and the coauthor of "Criminology".

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Table of Contents

Introduction to the Princeton Classic Edition ix
Preface xxvii
Introduction xxix
Chapter One: The Prison and Its Setting 3
Chapter Two: The Regime of the Custodians 13
Chapter Three: The Defects of Total Power 40
Chapter Four: The Pains of Imprisonment 63
Chapter Five: Argot Roles 84
Chapter Six: Crisis and Equilibrium 109
Chapter Seven: A Postscript for Reformers 130
Epilogue: The Structural-Functional Perspective on Imprisonment 135
Appendix A: A Note on Method 147
Appendix B: The Routine of Imprisonment 149
Index 157

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