Occupational socialization and cynicism toward prison administration

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Corrections officers occupy a crucial position in the institutional organization of prisons, and translate the policies and goals of prison administrations into action. This study focuses on the formation of cynicism toward prison administration and the factors that foster or inhibit it. I examine this type of cynicism by using questionnaire data from 198 first-line corrections officers at a medium-sized, medium security state prison. Cynicism toward prison administration peaks among officers in their first month of duty. However, cynicism declines with increased experience among officers who endorse rehabilitative goals, but does not decline among those who do not endorse such goals. Additionally, stress and frustration and perceived influence on administrative superiors are consistently related to cynicism toward prison administration among all officers. The data suggest that a subculture of cynical officers may form among first-line officers due to variations in occupational socialization processes. Three conceptual themes from symbolic interactionist theories of occupational socialization are presented that could lead to improvements in future research on corrections officers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)423-443
Number of pages21
JournalThe Social Science Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1992

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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