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Illuminating the Labeling Impact of Incarceration: Life-Course Perspectives of Young Offenders' and Their Pathways in Comparison to Non-Offenders in Nineteenth-Century Northern Sweden
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Historical Studies. (Centrum för befolkningsstudier)
2008 (English)In: Crime, History and Societies, ISSN 1663-4837, Vol. 12, no 2, 81-117 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In history, little is known about what happened to past offenders upon release. The labeling theories propose that the label bore negative consequences for those defined as criminals. To find evidence of this, young offenders’ life courses after incarceration in a booming sawmill area in nineteenth-century northern Sweden are examined. Prison registers are investigated and linked to Swedish parish records digitized by the Demographic Data Base (DDB), Umeå University. These historical sources allow for life-course perspectives that have been recently developed in modern criminology and other fields. Event-history analyses of a matched data set including non-criminals help to detect whether offenders suffered markedly from their criminal label, through examining four demographic events: relocation, marriage, career and death. Achieving this label had some negative impact on the pathways of individuals, but it was not equal to crisis and did not change the course of life dramatically. However, criminal men were less successful on the labor market and the few female offenders appear to be most vulnerable because this label meant they especially transgressed their gendered expectations. Nevertheless, finding that incarceration did not ruin the future prospects of young people challenges the stigma emphasized by some labeling concepts. It seems as if offenders confronted social exclusion to a limited extent and were governed by tolerant attitudes and a prosperous labor market.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Genève: Droz , 2008. Vol. 12, no 2, 81-117 p.
Keyword [en]
offender, crime, incarceration, life course analysis, matched data, nineteenth century
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-10413OAI: diva2:150084
Available from: 2011-06-08 Created: 2008-09-05 Last updated: 2011-06-22Bibliographically approved

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Vikström, Lotta
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Historical Studies

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