Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



This qualitative study explores the reorientation of masculine identities of formerly incarcerated Black men. Analysis is based on 20 in-depth interviews with 17 former inmates from the Louisiana prison system. This research investigates the impact of incarceration on the construction of masculinity. I explore the processes by which formerly imprisoned African American men construct, negotiate, and experience masculinity. My findings present how the way these men define masculinity and see themselves post-incarceration is influenced by not only their prison experience, but also by the reentry programs that they are affiliated. These men’s identities have been reformulated post-incarceration and are profoundly shaped by social scripts embedded within the American culture, as well as the social landscape of the reentry circumstances that they find themselves. The worlds that they navigate post-imprisonment are met with inequality, limitations resulting from structural boundaries, as well as assumptions and a general mistrust of criminals. Black men’s masculinity are present-day manifestations of a history saturated with discrimination, misrepresentation, and self-limiting internalized beliefs of deficiencies as men. However, the remnants of such a horrific past are quickly changing and so are the ways they view themselves as men. Although, their discourses on masculinity are created within a context that privileges White men, the men I interviewed describe how they negotiate masculinity, navigate a social context filled with inequality and a mistrust of former inmates, as well as how they have, and continue to reposition themselves as men with the limited resources available to them. These men have shifted their concepts of masculinity from a focus on toxic hypermasculine elements of masculinity toward positive, more-life sustaining conceptualizations of masculinity. My interviews highlight that personal senses of self, guide our everyday performances and become so commonplace that they begin to feel natural and self-initiated, even with outside influences. My findings provide support for reorganizing reentry programs to reorient positive understandings of masculinity in male inmates and former inmates, which will help reduce recidivism.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Berkowitz, Dana



Included in

Sociology Commons