• Linea Nørgaard Bevan
4. term, Psychology, Master (Master Programme)
This thesis focuses on how married couples experience social control in prison when the husband is incarcerated and how it affects them individually and in their relationship. Furthermore, the focus in the thesis is also directed towards what the couple themselves can do to take a degree of control in their lives despite a strict formal control in prison.

The aim of the thesis is to generate a more specific understanding of how social control impacts marriage and examines what can be done to help maintain con-tact between the individual in prison and his wife. This focus is relevant, considering that previous studies have shown that criminals who stay in touch with their wife during incarceration have a larger chance of staying out of criminality and prison afterwards.

The thesis builds on a qualitative study based on two single interviews with a couple. Applying interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA), the data has been analysed with focus on the participants’ experience of being a family with children when the one parent is incarcerated.

The findings of the analysis are discussed with reference to Flemming Balvig´s understanding of formal and informal social control along with Robert Stern-bergs perspective of different kinds of love in relationships. Furthermore, the analysis concerning how the couple can take control themselves is illustrated by Julian Rotter´s concept of locus of control.

The analysis identifies several ways of how social control affects the couple individually and relationally. Formal control, e.g. restrictions on when and how it is allowed for the couple to be in contact, seem among other things to affect the couples intimacy and closeness. The informal control especially affects the wife as she experiences the stigma attached to incarceration, where the man seems to be “protected” from this in the prison.
The analysis identifies furthermore, that the incarcerated man in some ways seems to be experiencing an internal locus of control in connection with his everyday life in prison, which causes him to experience some kind of control, and thereby responsibility, over his life in prison despite the all-embracing supervision of incarceration.
The analysis emphasizes that the social control in prisons can make it hard for families to keep in touch when one part in the relationship is serving a sentence.

The interviewed persons compare their situation to a divorce, maybe to normalise their separation, but as it is discussed, there does seem to be some significant difference between the two kinds of separation, among other things be-cause of the stigma attached to incarceration. The thesis draws another parallel, to families where one parent is a soldier and deployed, because both parts, among other things, seem to experience the restrictions of a total institution and stigma. Along with these parallels it is discussed what makes a separation “normal” in the eyes of the surrounding society.
The thesis also discusses how difficulties with keeping in contact during incar-ceration, not only affects the individual and the family, but also the surrounding society, among other things because the risk of recidivism seams to be greater if the prisoner loses touch with his wife and family.

Based on the findings in the analysis and discussion, it is suggested that further adjustments and a greater focus on the social control in prisons and its knock-on effect, could make it easier for couples and families to keep in touch while one is serving a sentence.
Publication date28 May 2014
Number of pages130
ID: 198215152