Stories of change and narrative selves: Identity work and young inmates’ turning point stories

Project leader

Funding source

Forte - Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare

Project Details

Start date: 01/01/2017
End date: 31/12/2018
Funding: 1600000 SEK


My research has primarily revolved around identity construction among youth in vulnerable situations and in institutions. A first work, conducted prior to my dissertation project, concerned self injurious behavior (Gradin Franzén och Gottzén, 2011). The dissertation project is a video ethnographic study of a detention home for boys, with a focus on treatment dilemmas in the everyday activities, for example, the implementation of manualized treatment models. The study explores identity work of the young men and staff and illuminate both how the treatment context constructs paradoxical identities for them, and how the participants negotiate these in everyday interaction.

The planned project aims to study narratives of change and identity work of young men (18-21 yrs) in prison. It is a video ethnographic study, grounded in narrative theory and method, life course criminology and desistance research. The data collection was conducted during my time as a PhD student, but as a separate project, and consist of video filmed interaction (ca 30h) and interviews with inmates (20) and staff (10). Above this, I also have access to in-depth interviews (48 inmates, 16 staff) conducted by a colleague in the same project. In studies of desistance from crime it has been found that identity change is an important aspect of the desistance process. Who we understand ourselves to be is connected with our actions, and in order to desist from crime, the offender has to uptake a new identity to replace the old. Identity is also always constructed in a context, and in relation to the surrounding discourses. In the planned study, focus will be on young men who potentially are in the midst of a desistance process. The study will constitute an important and unique contribution to the field, through the video ethnographic approach, a focus on narrative-in-interaction between staff and inmates, as well as the discursive context at the prison.

Last updated on 2017-03-04 at 12:55