Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Sociology & Criminal Justice
Criminology and Criminal Justice
Mass incarceration began almost fifty years ago and has proliferated to the point that the United States is the world leader in incarceration. Much work has been done that examines the history and nature of mass incarceration and the carceral state. However, an area that has received far less attention is how people think about prisons. To address this gap, I ground my analysis in the works of Louis Althusser, Slavoj Zizek, and Mark Fisher to formulate “Carceral Realism”, which I argue is the ideology of mass incarceration. To better understand the nature of this ideology, I employ a content analysis of prison films to examine how they portray prisons and the people in them. In the analysis, I show that prison films support the ideology of Carceral Realism by selectively portraying what kinds of people are in prison, by focusing on particular acts of violence, especially rape, and by depicting the primary purpose of prisons as incapacitation.
"The Ideology of the Carceral State: Examining the Prison Through Film"
(2021). Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Dissertation, Sociology & Criminal Justice, Old Dominion University, DOI: 10.25777/1yns-yw86