Graduate Michael Gibson-Light Wins Law and Society Association Dissertation Prize, Honorable Mention

June 16, 2020

Graduate of the Shcool of Sociology Michael Gibson-Light was announced as a winner of the Law and Society Association Dissertation Prize, Honorable Mention. "Michael Gibson-Light’s dissertation, “The Prison as Market: How Penal Labor Systems Reproduce Inequality,” is an account of work within the prisons and hierarchies that exist within prison work. The author points to the distinctions within the prison as experienced by the prisoners in terms of pay and the conditions of work-distinction between the food assembly work, at an auto garage and the coveted call center and sign shop. While there has been extensive work on the pre and post prison inequalities in the age of mass incarceration, here the focus is on the inequalities of work (social class) within the prison itself. The author did extensive fieldwork in a prison for 18 months and interviewed 82 prisoners and staff, and volunteered at some of the sites of work. Even as extensive research is being done of pre and post prison experiences, a study of social classes within the prison makes the question unique, the methodology is impressive-extensive fieldwork, and the theoretical framing is multilayered-neoliberal penologyto class stratification. The rich and textured descriptions of the experiences of the prisoners helps us understand the self-worth of individuals, class hierarchies within, and the forms of resistances that exist.”