Locating trust in a climate of fear: religion, moral status, prisoner leadership, and risk in maximum security prisons

Published: Jan 2017

Alison Liebling, Ruth Armstrong, Richard Bramwell and Ryan Williams

This project explores how trust, risk, identity and prisoner leadership work in two contrasting maximum security prisons.The study aims to capture dynamics that encourage human flourishing, even in prison, rather than damage to character, which is an increasing risk. The methodology combines appreciative inquiry with ethnography-led measurement of key dimensions of the prison’s moral and social climate to explore where and how trust might ‘work’ in this contemporary setting. It uses innovative methods to study prisoner networks, hierarches and developing ideologies, to test the hypothesis that forms of identity expression take on a different character in different moral, social and trust climates.