American Prison Privatization

From The Dirty Durkheims:

Our Blog Series (on I Heart Sociology and Racism Review):

Objectives of the Project:

  1. To inform the community about America’s private prison industry, as many are unaware that this privatization exists.
  2. To inform the community about social theorists, who can be used to explain the motives behind the creation of the private prison industry and how privatizing prisons is a reflection of racial and economic injustices that affect marginalized groups in society.
  3. To have people respond to our blog series and use their responses to show different views of the private prison industry.

Impact:

1. In the group’s eyes, the project was very successful. When we began
this project, most of us did not know anything about the private
prison industry. By individually researching different aspects of the
industry and then reading each other’s work, we were able to learn a
lot about the private prison industry and how it negatively effects
inmates and marginalized groups in society. In addition, we
successfully used social theorists that we learned about in this class
and in other sociology classes and applied them to our project, which
gave us the opportunity to strengthen our knowledge of social theory.
More importantly, we were reminded of how much we have learned about
social theory this semester, and this was an exciting realization!

2. Mainly, we learned how to conduct basic research and how to apply
sociological theories to analyze a social issue. And like we said
above, we also learned a lot about the private prison industry
throughout this process. In addition, we learned how to publicize our
work through social media platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, and
Wordpress, and realized their effectiveness in spreading awareness
about a social issue. Finally, we learned how to work effectively as a
group; we divided the work equally, worked on our posts individually,
and then reconvened to peer edit and to create a thoughtful
presentation.

3. This project helped challenge our initial beliefs about the social
theorists we’ve learned about in class—although they published their
work many years ago, their ideas can still be applied to social
problems today. Their work can be used to explain why social problems
exist and give insight into how to solve these problems. For our
group, applying social theory helped to clarify and to analyze the
facts we found about the private prison industry. For example, the
media’s explanation for the poor conditions in private prisons is that
companies want to maintain a profit. However, Weber’s theory about
being a “goal-oriented society” provides a deeper analysis and better
explains why there are such poor conditions in private prisons. Using
social theorists provides a more thorough explanation as to why
private prisons exist, whom they target, and how they operate—this
project made us realize the importance of what we’ve been learning!

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