Altering violent repertoires: Perspectives on violence in the prison-based cognitive-behavioural program Anger Management

Julie Laursen, Ann-Karina Eske Henriksen

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Based on ethnographic research in three Danish prisons, this article explores meanings of violence among prisoners, as they are narrated in the context of the prison-based cognitive-behavioral program Anger Management. The empirical data shows that the prisoners’ and instructors’ perspectives and understandings of violence diverge in significant ways. We find that these discrepancies result in disputes and misunderstandings, where prisoners’ experiences of violence are devalued and rendered illegitimate in a treatment context where violence is considered unacceptable and a result of faulty thinking. Drawing on anthropological theory on violence as contextual, trivialized, and embedded in narratives of self, we propose a framework that enables reflections on violence more attuned to the prisoners’ own narratives and reasoning. Such nuanced understandings of violence could provide more durable ways of altering violent repertoires.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Contemporary Ethnography
Issue numberIssue 2
Pages (from-to)261-286
Number of pages26
Publication statusPublished - 8 May 2018

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