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Charting the hidden City: Collecting prison social network data

NCJ Number
Date Published
44 pages

This article argues that social network data from prisoners can be collected by carefully adapting methods to the prison setting.


The authors suspect that prison scholars have been slow to incorporate social networks into their research because of the challenges—both real and perceived—of collecting social network data in the prison setting. In this article, the authors argue that successfully collecting network data from prisoners can be achieved by carefully adapting methods to the peculiarities and constraints of the prison setting. The authors draw upon experiences from the Prison Inmate Networks Study (PINS) and its associated projects in five Pennsylvania prisons to construct a framework for understanding and overcoming the obstacles to network data collection in prisons. Penologists have long emphasized the importance of studying social relationships among prisoners to understand how people adapt to confinement. While several penological traditions clearly implicate social networks as an explanatory mechanism, network methods have rarely been applied in prison research. (Published Abstract Provided)

Date Published: January 1, 2022