The clothes maketh the man: Uniforms, interaction and agency in prisons

Dr Anna Eriksson 

Monash University,

This paper will focus on the role of clothes and dress codes in prisons (staff and prisoners; uniforms or own clothes) and the impact this have on personal identify and agency; interpersonal relationships within groups; staff/prisoner relationships, and pathways for reintegration. This paper draws on 200 interviews that were collected from 14 prisons in Norway and Australia. This research clearly shows that clothes play a major role in identity construction, us/them divisions, and rehabilitation/reintegration work, which will be discussed in conjunction with suggestions for pathways and obstacles for reform of Australian prison practices.


Dr Eriksson is a previous ARC DECRA holder on the topic of comparative penology. She is a Senior Lecturer at Monash University and is currently undertaking research on prison and probation practices, ABI and neuro-disability in the criminal justice system, and restorative justice. She is the Director of the Imprisonment Observatory: