Kirsty Deacon

PhD Student

University of Glasgow


Working Title of PhD: Young people’s experiences of the imprisonment of a family member

Year commenced PhD study: 2015 Institution/Organisation: University of Glasgow

Funding Source: What Works Scotland  Full-time

PhD Supervisors: Prof Fergus McNeill and Dr Sarah Armstrong

Synopsis of PhD: This research explores young people’s experiences of having a parent or sibling in prison. It aims to forefront the family within this experience rather than the prison, or the prisoner. Therefore it explores what family means to these young people and how they experience it prior to, during and after the family member’s release from prison. It also looks at how the young people have dealt with the imprisonment of their parent or sibling.

This research is exploratory and qualitative in nature and draws on data from two different sources. The first is from participant observation and semi-structured interviews carried out with eight young people aged 16-25 who are part of an arts collective known as KIN (a joint project between Vox Liminis and Families Outside). The second data source is ten interviews with young people aged 17-21 who, as well as experiencing a family member’s imprisonment, are also currently serving a sentence themselves.

This research adds to the body of familial imprisonment literature in a variety of ways. It widens the experiences included within it, through the inclusion of young people who are serving a prison sentence themselves, and allows a more nuanced and contextual exploration of the experience though the centering of the family rather than the prison or the prisoner. It also contributes methodologically by highlighting the need to explore this subject not only qualitatively but also interpretively; asking not only what happened but how it was experienced and how the young people made sense of this experience.

Keywords: Familial imprisonment, Children and young people, Family



University of Glasgow

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