Charting the hidden City: Collecting prison social network data

Corey Whichard, David R. Schaefer, Derek A. Kreager

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Penologists have long emphasized the importance of studying social relationships among prisoners to understand how people adapt to confinement. While several penological traditions clearly implicate social networks as an explanatory mechanism, network methods have rarely been applied in prison research. We suspect that prison scholars have been slow to incorporate social networks into their research because of the challenges—both real and perceived—of collecting social network data in the prison setting. In this article, we argue that successfully collecting network data from prisoners can be achieved by carefully adapting methods to the peculiarities and constraints of the prison setting. We draw upon experiences from the Prison Inmate Networks Study (PINS) and its associated projects in five Pennsylvania prisons to construct a framework for understanding and overcoming the obstacles to network data collection in prisons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)170-179
Number of pages10
JournalSocial Networks
StatePublished - May 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Social Sciences
  • General Psychology


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