The purpose of this research was to gain a deeper understanding of the shape of social support networks within women’s prisons and the role that they play for inmates. Particular attention was paid to the nature of relationships that develop among the incarcerated women, and factors that affect those interactions. The research was conducted through ten in-depth interviews with women currently incarcerated or recently paroled in the state of Michigan. The four most prevalent relationship types I found were friendships, sexual relationships, ‘pseudofamily’ fragments, and cliques. These relationships fulfill needs that are not provided by the facility and also serve as coping mechanisms in the prison environment. Similar to relations on the outside, networks form with an element of exchange and reciprocity, while also serving an emotionally supportive function. Future research should examine changes in levels of interpersonal trust among women within the prison system, as well as the role that changing cultural gender ideologies may have on women in the prison system.


Nurse, Anne


Sociology and Anthropology

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2007 Anlyn Addis