Bridget Brew

Ph.D. Candidate


I am a PhD Candidate in the Department of Sociology, with a minor in demography. In my work I explore mechanisms that create, maintain, and alleviate social stratification across institutions.  I am especially interested in the social consequences of incarceration. For my dissertation I apply quantitative and qualitative methods to investigate discipline and support in penal institutions. This project connects scholarship on criminology, race and ethnicity, and inequality.  


Laura Tach (chair), Christopher Wildeman, Anna Haskins, Kendra Bischoff 

Dissertation Title: 

Control during confinement: Discipline and care as sources of inequality in penal institutions

Dissertation Abstract: 

I investigate formal and informal punishment and support in penal institutions in order to elucidate how the carceral experience intersects with broader systems of stratification that predict and follow incarceration. First, I conduct quantitative analyses of disciplinary infraction data from a state prison system to test whether there are different disciplinary infraction rates for black and white inmates over time, as infraction tickets reflect both inmates’ and correctional officers’ decisions. Next, I present qualitative data from in-depth interviews conducted with correctional officers and formerly incarcerated people.  While officers typically rely on colorblind racial ideology to explain the incarceration and treatment of inmates, formerly incarcerated people believe that the rigid boundaries that officers create to maintain control are exacerbated by racial bias. Taken together, the three chapters of my dissertation demonstrate that confinement is not a uniform event; rather it is a social experience that varies by group and context.