The Virtual Reality of Russian Prisons:The Impact of Social Media on Prisoner Agency and Prison Structure in Russian prisons

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk

Laura Piacentini - Speaker

Although the subject of prisoners accessing the internet through illicit communication devices is commonly reported by prison agencies, nevertheless, there is very little prison sociological research into how prisoners themselves engage in online activity. Using Russia as a case study, this paper reports findings from a new study funded by the Leverhulme Trust on the ways that prisoner agency and structure connect and cohere in Russia using the internet. My main finding is that Russian penality now sits at the nexus of two processes: it is de-institutionalised in that the prison, discursively speaking, is no longer fixed to a built form, and it is reflexively re-territorialised in that it places prisoner agency onto a third space. The significance of this finding is that the interplay between de-institutionalisation and re-territorialisation has produced on a new penal imagery - a carceral motif for the twenty first century - in the form of a virtual world.

11 May 2017

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