Edited by Henriette Sinding Aasen, Siri Gloppen, Anne-Mette Magnussen and Even Nilssen
Chapter 11: Ad hoc multiculturalism: prison staff approaches to cultural and religious diversity
In the wake of international migration and globalized crime, prisons all over Europe hold an increasing number of inmates from ethnic and religious minority backgrounds. However, the degrees to which European states accommodate different religious needs and address issues of differential treatment vary greatly (Beckford 2006; Furseth and Kühle 2011; Modood et al. 2006). Differences in states’ approaches to diversity are among the factors that shape practices in prisons from above. In the European context, the Norwegian state has been a latecomer in regulating opportunities for citizens from minority backgrounds. Prison policies are shaped by an egalitarian tradition that has largely avoided questions of difference. Top-down influences, such as state policies and ideologies, are important factors affecting minority prisoners’ social citizenship. Another central factor is the manner in which professional discretion is exercised at different levels of the prison system. In this chapter, prison staff approaches to cultural and religious diversity are analysed to investigate how the social citizenship of prisoners is influenced by top-down initiated regulations, on the one hand, and the professional norms and discretion of prison staff, on the other. Dilemmas related to individual prisoners’ rights versus concern for public safety are at the heart of the analysis. The aim of analysing officers’ descriptions of professional practice is to explore how the interaction between rights and professionalism can reveal processes of inclusion and exclusion of minority members of society.
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