The dissertation is concerned with narratives, especially narratives told to me by incarcerated youth offenders at a Correctional Centre in the Western Cape, South Africa. My own position within the research study is motivated by the fact that I had been working in a correctional setting for over a decade and had started to question my position as a correctional official. The main study finding indicates that narrative structures assist Christian converts in adapting to the correctional setting and to the reality of being re-incorporated into life outside prison. The problem statement of my dissertation reads is as follows. What insights do narrated stories of incarcerated offenders offer, as we think about the ways in which youth offenders cope with the life in prison? I am arguing that in the narratives under examination prison, as an institution, seems to fulfil the role of provider. One of the positions taken in the research is that the narrated life stories do not only reflect psychological coping mechanisms for individuals, but also reveal important aspects of coping with social relationships and institutional contexts. The non-probability sampling approach was used to select the research participants. Data was collected using unstructured in-depth interviews. The study is qualitative in nature, using the inductive content analysis approach. In exploring the raw data sets, I learned that social relations between participants provide meaning in the study context. Study findings contribute to the broader debate on incarcerated offenders and conversion narratives. The study is important because narratives provide some insight into the present, past and future life of participants. The researcher recommends that the offenders’ narrated life stories can serve as a basis for developing sentence plans which may contribute to the rehabilitation process of offenders.
Dissertation (MSocSci)--University of Pretoria, 2017.