The Society of Captives: A Study of a Maximum Security Prison

Front Cover
Princeton University Press, 2007 - Social Science - 161 pages
0 Reviews

The Society of Captives, first published in 1958, is a classic of modern criminology and one of the most important books ever written about prison.

Gresham Sykes wrote the book at the height of the Cold War, motivated by the world's experience of fascism and communism to study the closest thing to a totalitarian system in American life: a maximum security prison. His analysis calls into question the extent to which prisons can succeed in their attempts to control every facet of life--or whether the strong bonds between prisoners make it impossible to run a prison without finding ways of "accommodating" the prisoners.

Re-released now with a new introduction by Bruce Western and a new epilogue by the author, The Society of Captives will continue to serve as an indispensable text for coming to terms with the nature of modern power.


What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.


The Prison and Its Setting
The Regime of the Custodians
The Defects of Total Power
The Pains of Imprisonment
Argot Roles
Crisis and Equilibrium
A Postscript for Reformers
The StructuralFunctional Perspective on Imprisonment
A Note on Method
The Routine of Imprisonment

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (2007)

Gresham M. Sykes is Professor of Sociology Emeritus at the University of Virginia. He is the author of many books, including Social Problems in America and Crime and Society, and the coauthor of Criminology.

Bibliographic information