Musical life stories: coherence through musicking in the prison setting

Kjetil Hjørnevik, Kjell Waage, Anita Lill Hansen

Publisert i Crime, Media, Culture: An International Journal, 6.1.2022

Despite the strong relationships evidenced between music and identity little research exists into the significance of music in prisoners’ shifting sense of identity. This article explores musicking as part of the ongoing identity work of prisoners in light of theory on musical performance, narrative and desistance and discusses implications for penal practice and research. Through the presentation of an ethnographic study of music therapy in a low security Norwegian prison we show how participation in music activities afforded congruence between the past, the present and the projected future for participants by way of their unfolding musical life stories. Complementing existing conceptualisations of music as an agent for change, our study suggests that musicking afforded the maintenance of a coherent sense of self for participating prison inmates, whilst offering opportunities for noncoercive personal development.

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