Female inmates have encountered a great deal of violence during their life course, in most cases starting from abuse in the childhood home. In this study, I examine the accounts given by seven Finnish female inmates who have a two-fold relationship with violence: they have both experienced and perpetrated it. Thus, they have fractured the culturally dominant categorization of woman as nurturing and peaceful. They have an ambivalent relationship with culturally dominant discourses that narrowly depict violent women as either victims or perpetrators. By applying membership categorization analysis, I examine the kinds of identities that participants construct for themselves as both abused and abusers. The women mobilised interrelated yet non-linear and complex categorizations of abused child, substance user, object of intimate violence, perpetrator of violence and inmate. They accounted for their membership in the abused child, substance user and object of intimate violence categorizations, and thus constructed narrative accounts about why they were drawn into the ‘deviant’ category memberships of perpetrator of violence and inmate. By emphasising the category memberships or by resisting them, the participants distanced their identities from violence and were able to establish themselves as moral subjects.
- female inmates
- membership categorization analysis
Publication forum classification
- Publication forum level 2
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health(social science)
- Social Sciences (miscellaneous)