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Unlocking Radicalization: Correctional Officers, Risk Perception, and Ideological Extremism in Albertan Prisons

  • Author / Creator
    Schultz, William J
  • A wide range of sources have framed radicalization into violent extremism as a serious risk to prisons in Europe and North America. Some view prisons as a primary recruiting ground for groups like ISIS. I investigated whether this was accurate in Alberta by conducting semi-structured interviews with 43 correctional officers in three Alberta prisons. I asked three questions: 1. Do correctional officers observe what they perceive as radicalization among their inmate populations? 2. How do correctional officers perceive and govern the risks associated with ‘radical’ inmates? 3. What influence does an insider/outsider role play in shaping prison research? I found nothing to suggest active radical activity within my research sites, suggesting prison radicalization is largely an irrelevant threat in the Albertan Context. However, I also discovered that officers have (in many cases) unconsciously redefined the meaning of “radicalization,” and have applied the label onto inmates who are resistant to officer control, rather than members of ideologically violent radical groups. I explore this at length using Ulrich Beck’s Risk Society hypothesis. Finally, I discovered my status as a former correctional officer played a strong role in casting me as an “Insider/Outsider” researcher, something which deeply shaped my research experience and impacted the data I was able to gather.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    2017-11:Fall 2017
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/R3WD3QF6M
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
    English
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
    Master's
  • Department
    • Department of Sociology
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Bucerius, Sandra (Department of Sociology
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Mahdavi, Mojtaba (Department of Political Science)
    • Haggerty, Kevin (Department of Sociology)