‘Doing the wait’: an exploration into the waiting experiences of prisoners’ families

Published: February 2016

Waiting is a universal experience and a ‘taken for granted’ form of time. However, it is given a social specificity when embodied by particular agents in particular settings. This paper reflects on the universal experience of waiting in the very particular setting of the prison, specifically a prison visitors’ centre; this is the space where families wait prior to visiting their incarcerated relatives. I draw on the literature of waiting and prisoners’ families, as well as my own empirical work and ethnographic observations of waiting families. In this work, I explore issues of power and agency, and explore the social relations which are orchestrated within and beyond this organisation of space and time. This paper aims to bring together two distinct areas of literature: one which explores how prisoners ‘do time’, and the other which explores the impact of imprisonment on the families outside. In marrying the two, this paper explores the temporal impact of the imprisonment on the family members of those incarcerated.

Authors / Editors

Dr Rebecca Foster

Edinburgh Napier University

Research Themes

Criminal Justice Process and Institutions

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