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Racial Hatred in Prisons - Racist Signs and Symbols

Racial graffiti is particularly rife in Her Majesties Prison Service (HMPS) (see Telfer, 2005). As a result of the Commission for Racial Equality's investigation into the Prison Service, HMPS enacted two Key Performance Targets for Race Equality, ensuring every establishment has systems in place to "manage all risks related to the effective management of good race relations" (Telfer, 2005, P. 1). The Commission for Race Equality (CRE) investigation highlighted numerous concerns that were not so much about policies and procedures in the prison estate but also involved negative actions and sanctions by staff against staff against black and minority ethnic prisoners (Race Review, 2008). The review records that "a great deal of work has been undertaken at a local level to ensure that the failures identified by the CRE have been addressed" (p. 12) and describes local actions, perceived to have been successful. Despite the positive actions taken by HMPS since the CRE investigation, black and minority ethnic prisoners are more likely to still receive sanction and punishment disproportionately to white prisoners (Race Review, 2008). However, following the completion of this project, the author identified lingering grassroots concerns -- often mentioned in Her Majesties Inspector of Prisons reports -- about the amount of racist graffiti in prisons, that was not, and has never been explored. Important for the current concerns of HMPS and the wider society is the continued use of these signs and symbols in ways that destabilise the safety and management of those held in prison and threatens the culture and values of all affected.

This research seeks to investigate whether viewing racist signs and symbols increases self-reported levels of racial prejudice and other factors associated with race hate in the prison context. The primary hypothesis of this research is that viewing racist signs and symbols increases prejudice against out-groups and factors associated with racism and hate. A primary aim of this study is to bring focus upon the impact of racial graffiti in prisons, and (following the recent worldwide terrorist attacks) provide further understanding on the effects of visual nationalistic symbology such as flags and markings on behaviour and attitudes (e.g., Butz, Ashby Plant & Doerr, 2007). Although hate symbols have been studied outside of social psychology (e.g. in historical research), the researcher has not been able to identify any previous empirical research that rigorously tests the outcomes of viewing race hate symbols on variables associated with racial prejudice. Thus impact evidence is sparse. The symbols used to adorn the bodies of members of hate groups, prison walls, cell confines, pseudo uniforms or clothing markers and tags can enforce in-group collectivity. The displaying of these symbols may provide a powerful sense of group identity and a method of either immediate visual recognition or more 'clandestine' forms of recognition in the manner of coded wording and numerical presentations. However, this study will test whether the symbols associated with these racist and white supremacy groups are more than just a form of club regalia or some fashion statement. Tests will be undertaken to establish whether the viewing of the signs and symbols increases the social distance, social dominance and prejudice of majority group viewers.

This differentiation submission is divided in three main sections: an introduction, a full literature review sample chapter, and a methodology. In the following introduction, I will first introduce the context for this research focusing on hate and racism within the prison context. I will then explore the role of symbols in race hate, their functions and their possible effects on behaviour and beliefs. I will then outline the aims and objectives of this study.

The next section, the literature review sample chapter, will then set about defining race hate and introducing the psychology of race hate bringing particular focus upon firstly social dominance and terror management theory. Next, I will outline existing research and theory on hate propaganda and Sternberg's theory in particular. I will also explore the social psychological literature relevant to the role of propaganda in the development of these attitudes. This thesis will draw from a number of theories; predominantly those focusing on prejudice, racism, hate, and social dominance. Elements of "Terror Management Theory" are also drawn upon in the design of this study.

Finally, I include a methodology and preliminary data collection chapter that presents firstly, the pilot study for this research, including a discussion of sample, procedure, methodology, pre and post test results with a brief discussion. Following this the main proposed studies both prisoner and staff is outlined. This section then concludes with a summary of ethical issues, methodology and bibliography.

Context for the Research: Hate/Racism in Prisons

Racism is a complex construct that is frequently confounded with related attributes such as - bias, prejudice, hatred, different biological characteristics, social status, and religious beliefs, doctrines to name but a few. The American Heritage Dictionary proffers two definitions for consideration, one broad in meaning and scope and a second, more refined and focused on the issues within this research.

  • Discrimination or prejudice based upon race.
  • The belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others.

These definitions are further probed in the section "Defining Race Hate" in the literature review chapter below. The dictionary definitions above, however, are sufficient to make the case that racism is common in the prison environment.

Racism in prisons has been extensively documented with a broad range of commentary illustrating failings and inactions of the Service to control the harassment and targeting of minorities. For instance, in January 2008 it was reported that "race riots had erupted at one British prison, creating an extremely dangerous environment for ethnic minority prisoners who now fear for their safety". It was further reported that prison officers and staff were "actively complicit in both encouraging racial abuse against ethnic minority prisoners and ignoring complaints regarding racial abuse" (Arani Solicitors, 2008):

"Moreover, 99% of the staff there also remains of white origin. To date, in over ten months of being at HMP ***** he has only ever once come across a non-white officer. This extreme imbalance across the board ferments intolerance, racial hatred and white supremacist behaviour from a large percentage of inmates as well as some of the officers too."

"At H.M.P ***** he has been able to see, at first hand, racist graffiti on both walls and windows - namely in the segregation block. Slogans such as 'n*gger' and 'NF' are common place. Moreover, he also states that he once overheard another, black, inmate complaining to a senior officer after finding similar writing in and around the kitchen locker area. The inmate was naturally upset, asking for a reason why staff had had clearly turned a blind eye to such an extent that even blatantly racist graffiti was not expunged. The Claimants states that the point remained: if inmates are clearly able to view these outrages then naturally the officers are cognisant of it too. He feels that given this stagnant attitude on the part of staff, it only further prevented him from complaining about the taunts that he had received as he was certain either little or no action would be taken."

In 2000, the Commission for racial Equality announced a formal investigation into racial discrimination in the Prison Service. Three prisons have been named: HMP Brixton, HMYOI Feltham and run HMP Parc. The investigation will take place because of serious concerns amongst Commissioners that racialism is rife in some Prisons.

According to CRE Chair Gurbux Singh (HMPS, 2000) the CRE Commissioners had developed a growing disquiet about incidents that resulted in confirmed racial discrimination within HMPS, taking the extraordinary measure of initiating a formal investigation. This measure was initiated because the recent murder at HMYOI Feltham of Mr Zahid Mubarek, a serving prisoner. The CRE believing the murder was racially motivated. Furthermore, it was also their belief that the circumstances surrounding the treatment of Claude Johnson, a prison officer serving at HMP Brixton[1] was also racially motivated. Singh reports that the CRE find it unacceptable to "allow racist bullying, harassment, violence and murder to continue unchecked in our prisons - whether between inmates, inmates and staff, or amongst the staff themselves."

The CRE was subsequently asked by Martin Narey, then Prison Service Director General to perform a Formal Investigation into HMPS to identify areas of concern and produce an Action Plan for change (HMPS, 2000).

Further reporting some 3 years later in national press following the publication of the report into the Prison Service by the CRE provides a backdrop of Prison Service comment. Narey talked of his "shame and horror" as the report gave indication to the extent of the level of racism in British jails. Following the CRE investigation, Narey discussed a joint agreement to engage in an action plan to take forward the findings and recommendations of the report. Furthermore, the report uncovered continuing examples of "vile racist graffiti in jails" - "letters from prisoners at HMP Parc, South Wales, often carried the initials KKK and RVS (Rhondda Valley Skins)". The CRE report argued "It would be hard to find more obscenely racist material. However, there was often little sign of a pro-active approach on the part of staff toward stopping racist behaviour." The Director General when responding to the report stated "I felt as I read it there were some shameful things in there that as a Prison Service we should look at with horror. We should work hard to ensure that doesn't happen."

In retort to Narey the CRE chairman Trevor Phillips discussed 14 failing areas within HMPS, from a possible 138 British jails. He elected not to issue a Non-Discrimination Notice because HMPS had agreed to bring about improvements in race equality through the intended action plan. However, should HMPS fail to make considerable improvements within the next five years the CRE are still able to issue the Non-Discrimination Notice. (Mail on Line, 2003).

Her Majesties Chief Inspector of Prisons, Anne Owers said,

"Our principal finding is that there was no shared understanding of race issues within prisons: instead there was a series of parallel worlds, inhabited by different groups of staff and prisoners with widely divergent views and experiences" (2005, P. 1).

Owers reports that the thematic review discovered a variety of disparity of treatment for visibly different prisoners and that minority prisoners had, on the whole, a poorer experience that white prisoners and that their particular needs were not being met. The report notes that prisoners from visibly different minorities were more likely to experience a feeling of being unsafe and to experience racist bullying, particularly from other prisoners. More black prisoners reported that most staff did not treat them with respect, with black men reporting that they were more likely to be victimised by staff. The report utilised focus groups of visible minority prisoners and reported that they said that racism manifested itself in access to the prison regime, and the way staff treated and spoke to them.

Table one reveals that (n=14%) prisoners from visible ethnic minorities state the have been the victim by staff, that white prisoners (n=2%). Less than (n=6%) of visible minority women stated they had been victimised by staff than other visible minority women (n=14%). More juvenile and adult men (n=21% & 19%) as apposed to young adult men or women (n=9% & 7%) state that they had been victimised by staff, all on the grounds of race. This data it is argued provides positive support that prison staff do treat non-white prisoners less favourably than white prisoners.

"Has a member of staff victimised you here on the grounds of race?"

Table 2 reports on the proportions of prisoners who purport to have suffered victimisation from other prisoners on the grounds of race. It can be seen that more prisoners from visible minorities claim to have been victimised than those prisoners who are visible white (n-11% & 2%). An increase in the number of Asian prisoners can be seen in all groups and establishment particularly Asian women (n=37%) who state that have been victimised on grounds of race by other prisoners. Similarly this data supporting the argument that white prisoners treat non white prisoners less favourably.

According to Ellis, Tedstone and Curry (2004) overrepresentation of black and minority ethnic prisoners is evident. In their brief study of what works they present an evaluation of the preceding 12 years indicating a clear and precise manner in which racial hatred and discrimination were occurring within British prisons and more importantly for this study is that their findings now nearly 20 years present a striking similarity to that which is hypothesised in this study. In furtherance according to Ellis, Tedstone and Curry (2004, p. 2):

  • Verbal; abuse, threats and other harassment in prisoner - staff, and prisoner - prisoner relations.
  • Prison Officers differential use of discretion over offences, punishment, complaints and re-categorisation[2].
  • Differential allocation to cells, wings and other prisons.
  • Differential access to jobs, training and education.
  • Physical abuse in prisoner - staff and prisoner - prisoner relations

However there being no further rationale in the study for these outcomes, rather an action set delivery plan. These findings, it is argued demonstrate the out-group treatment by white staff and prisoners to black and minority ethnic out-group prisoners; thus providing further argument in support of the hypothesis that those high in racial hatred and prejudice will be more punitive to those who threaten their societal and cultural norms and values; in this case measured in the differential application of reward and sanction.

According to Bowden (2006) in presenting the Home Office Statistics 2003, that 16% of all male prisoners are from a black and minority ethnic background and according to Ministry of Justice statistics (2008) black and minority ethnic prisoners has considerably increased. For illustration purposes only it can be seen that black and minority ethic HMPS staff has not increased at the same or similar rate.

He argues that predominantly black prisoners suffer at the hands of white prison staff, with further punishment and oppression levelled at those who complain about the treatment and abuse. He cites the treatment of a mixed race prisoner Sean Higgins who, he postulates, typifies treatment that black and minority ethnic prisoners receive at the hands of white prison staff. He catalogues a history of racial abuse and ill treatment and argues that it was administered by racially motivated staff. He further cites cases of deliberate delay when responding to complaints. This is supported by the Commission for Race Equality enquiry report (2003) in (Boden, 2006, p.2):

"Some prison staff discourage or prevent making racist complaints and those who plucked up the courage to speak out against discrimination were victimised for making the complaint".

In contrast to Her Majesties Inspector of Prisons report which indicates a propensity towards minor and subversive prejudice amongst both staff and prisoners, prisons in the United States are experiencing a more overt style of racism, with white supremacy groups and gangs contributing to a continual escalation in American penitentiaries of violence and racial tensions, (Anti-Defamation League, 2005). Overt publications of prejudicial material are commonplace. For instance 14 Word Press, was established in Idaho to publicise the teachings of serving prisoner David Lane, and to distribute his writings and related paraphernalia. 14 words being symbolic in its translation and adoption by neo-Nazi and race hate groups, "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children".

In summary, racial graffiti although common in many communities is particularly rife in prison environments like HMPS (see Telfer, 2005). Furthermore the investigations by the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) into the Prison Service, HMPS enacted two Key Performance Targets for Race Equality, ensuring every establishment has systems in place to "manage all risks related to the effective management of good race relations" (Telfer, 2005. p. 1). However, following the completion of this project, the author identified lingering grassroots concerns -- often mentioned in Her Majesties Inspector of Prisons reports -- about the amount of racist graffiti in prisons, was not, and had never been explored. The decision to firmly position this research within a prison environmental setting was taken in part because of the author's involvement in penal establishments - Prison Governing Governor, also bearing witness and testimony to both the images and graffiti, and a pursuance of the underlying causal effects.

Additionally, following an expansive literature review, it was evident to the author that the societal and cultural threats and dangers endemic in society are repeated in the mirrored micro environment that is a penal institution. Important for the current concerns of HMPS and the wider society is the continued use of these signs and symbols (graffiti) in these manners which destabilises the safety and management of those held in prison and threatens the culture and values of all affected.

Symbols in Race Hate

Within the sphere of a wider society the influence of these symbols can be regularly seen both within Britain but also throughout the world, The symbology of the swastika painted upon a desecrated Jewish gravestone or the extremely powerful and recognisable 'burning cross' of the Ku Klux Klan are fine examples of the use and abuse of these images.

Used with kind permission from Mathew Collins. (ed. Signs of Hate)

Nationally and internationally it is evident that signs and symbols play a central role in the conveyance of hate and the enactment of hate crimes. The following are extracts from the United States Hate Incident List (Tolerance, 2005):

El Cerrito. Published on 17/9/05. A swastika was scrawled on a bathroom door at a school.

Amherst. Published on 17/9/05. The words 'Ku Klux Klan' was chalked on a black teacher's driveway.

Eugene. Published on 30/8/05. Three men were charged with conspiracy to violate civil rights after they allegedly threw rock engraved with Nazi symbols through the windows of a synagogue during service.

Bonita Springs. Published on 25/8/05. Swastikas and other hate graffiti were scrawled on a building and a sign at a local school.

Merced. Published on 8/8/05. A trailer with swastikas and the letters KKK was parked in front of a black woman's home.

However, visual display of these images is not just limited to 'paint and canvass' as has been apparent over the past few decades, the internet or World Wide Web has become not only an avenue for display but also recruitment for hate groups worldwide as the internet has provided a base for airing and displaying racist signs and symbols with relative anonymity, racism on the World Wide Web is flourishing. Perusal of white power and neo-Nazi sites all reveal the usage of, and prominent display of, racist signs and symbols. Currently it is estimated that more than 2000 web sites promote hatred and bigotry in some manner or another (Black Information Link, 2005). Some of these are quite passive in manner and try to promote patriotism as a tool for racist bigotry. Others are much stronger, including 'calls to arms' to promote white supremacy and neo-Nazi ideologies. Almost all of the pages reveal a wide array of racist signs and symbols, presumably intended to act more as a recruitment tool than a means of instilling fear in the viewers. It is this response to these visual prompts or cues that is of most interest to the present research. Several of the most common symbols are reviewed below:

The ancient imagery of the 'sawasdee' or 'Sanskrit svasti' both meaning well-being, have now become synonymous with the title 'Swastika'. This symbol when presented in the original form, arms bent to the left, is representative of peace and harmony. However, it was Hitler in the 1920's who reversed the image and adopted it as the symbol of the National Socialist Party, later becoming iconic with the Nazi movement. The power of this symbol can be seen today with its adoption by white supremacy, fascist and neo-Nazi groups.

Imagery based upon this style has been evident with early discoveries of its use from Neolithic times. Buddhist and Hindus frequently adorning ornaments and clothing with versions or adaption's of the image.

Interestingly to display a Swastika styled image is illegal in Germany now but still legal in the United Kingdom.

The SS insignia associated with the Nazi 'Schutzstaffel' translated meaning 'protection squad'. These squads were referred to as the SS and were commonly used as the elite protection guards and in the death camps for brutality and control.

This symbol has its origins in the Nordic Sig Runes and was commonly worn in accompaniment of the deaths head insignia,

The symbols of the burning cross are iconic with the Ku Klux Klan. It is alleged that the burning cross was copied by the Ku Klux Klan from a Scottish tradition of using a burning cross to summon clan members to fight and battle. The image of the burning cross has, through its use by the Ku Klux Klan become synonymous with racial hatred and abuse.

The National Front is a relatively new organisation only coming into existence on 7th February 1967 in London. It was formed by the coming together of three other parties the League of Empire Loyalists, the Racial Preservation Society and the British National Party.

The cementing theme for this new party was 'Britain is British', it rejected the concepts of immigration and integration and stood against the ideas of a multi-cultural society.

The Ku Klux Klan or KKK as it is better known and represented by these symbolic letters was established on 24th December 1865 by a group of Confederate soldiers with the aim of establishing a secret society. History indicates that this society was intended to be mutual and societal in origin, but as it grew in numbers and recognition it began to stand outside of the law with focus on mistreatment and brutality towards black people. The meaning of the words comes from 'kuklos' a Greek word for circle and 'clan' meaning family.

The imagery associated with the Ku Klux Klan of burning crosses, white hooded and robed horsemen attackers and in some cases white robed horses, is well known and documented. However, what started out as an anti black society has now grown to encompass Catholics, homosexuals, immigrants and Jews.

ss death's head

SS death's head. Totenkopfverbande (Death's Head Units). This symbolised the very hard core element of Hitler's soldiers. They were formed to become an elite force within an elite structure originally guarding the highest risk within the concentration camps. Today it depicts part of the symbol of Combat 18, the British Nazi terrorist organisation and other similar fascist groups.


Eagle with Swastika. This is an amalgamation of the previous German Reich Imperial Eagle symbol, undertaken by Hitler with his interpretation of the Swastika. This symbol became an iconic image not only of the Nazi regime but also of Germany itself.

What is the reason these symbols are so powerful? Why did the National Socialist Party in Germany adopt the swastika - a reworked Hindu peace symbol - as a representative symbol in the 1930's? Why later in the same party history did they adopt the sig-runes as a symbol representative of death and anti-Semitic hatred? Why have these same symbols and more modern ones (e.g., Lonsdale clothing) been adopted to represent neo-Nazi and white supremacy groups worldwide. The central hypothesis of this study is that these symbols themselves play a central role in the development of race hatred and consequently in drawing membership to these groups. It has to be recognised that those joining, may or may not have racist or prejudicial views prior to membership. However, the effect of these signs and symbols, it is postulated, may give rise to racist and hate thoughts and action, albeit non-consciously.

Aims and Objectives of This Study

The literature review below suggests that symbols are an extremely powerful form of non-verbal communication. Symbols can prime emotions and feelings in both in-group and out-group, and influence both attitudes and behaviour. This research will set out to investigate whether viewing racist signs and symbols increases self-reported levels of prejudice and other factors related to race hate in the short term. This study will provide the first empirical test of this idea and will also seek to understand why the symbols have the effect they do from the perspective of social identity theory in psychology. . This question is of applied importance because it may help to explain the role of such symbols in the recruitment into "hate groups" in the prison environment and elsewhere.

Additional research questions will be asked about differences in reaction to these symbols among different groups. In particular, prison staff as opposed to prisoners. It is argued that this alleged treatment of black and minority ethnic prisoners by white prison staff is embedded into the very bedrock of prison culture and this study will empirically explore whether "in-group" members (i.e. white prison staff) will treat "out-group" members (black and minority ethnic staff and prisoners) differently when triggered by hate symbology. As such, it is anticipated that this research will contribute to the wider literature on race as well as applied discussion about prison management.


There has been much said, written and hypothesised about race, prejudice, hatred, social dominance and distance, hatred and associated propaganda, as well as the psychology of group interaction. However there is limited research on these associations in a closed institutional environment like a prison. This chapter will therefore focus on the general literature on race hate and in the actual dissertation I will also include a chapter on the sociology of the prison environment and the research on racism in such institutions. This review of the literature sets out to firstly bring definition to the concept of race hate, in doing so I review the interplays of prejudice, discrimination and social identity. The review then discuses the psychology of hate from the perspective of social dominance and terror management theory, exploring the threats between the dominant and non-dominant group set within the terror management framework. The review then moves on to discuss the social psychological literature relevant to the role of propaganda in the development of hate and prejudicial attitudes.

Defining Race Hate

The hatred of one person for another, one group for another, one 'class' for another - due to their religion, cast, creed, colour, ethnicity, belief or persuasion - is troubling but common to all societies. This section presents a definition of race hate by drawing on the definitive works of Allport and others including Jost & Hamilton, Williams & McGarty, Penny, Sternberg and others. It reviews prejudice and categorisation towards out-groups and the associated discriminatory beliefs and actions. I conclude with a review of research and theory on social identity and public displays declaring affiliation of a particular societal value and belief.

Racism is generally understood as the belief that one race is superior to others. Wellman (1993) argues that according this hierarchical or superiority based worldview:

"culturally sanctioned beliefs, which, regardless of intentions involved, defend the advantages whites have because of the subordinated position of racial minorities" (Wellman, 1993).

Wellman (1993) moves away from the traditional dictionary definitions of racism, arguing that racism is aligned to the cultural belief system that exists within 'white' society and culture.

Blauner's (1972) definition likewise focuses on the treatment of inferiors by the superior.

"social domination by which a group seen as inferior in alleged biological characteristics is exploited, controlled and oppressed socially and psychically by a superordinate group (p. 84)

Further review of the many definitions of racism, indeed appears to set racism within the broader construct of prejudice or along side of it. Both concepts share the commonality of in-group, out-group perception of threat, disadvantage and more so a superiority - inferiority positioning. Thus, it is argued that the threat plays an essential component to the comfortable positional culture and societal values within the in-group.

Ester I. Jusuf (2000) defines racism as a form of prejudice. As opposed to the position of Wellman (1993) she argues that racism is the assumption of superiority manifesting in the belief of 'special rights and privileges' (p. 1). Importantly for this research, she further argues that racism is the assumption of individual actions and beliefs on a discriminatory nature resulting in a superior-inferior base. It appears apparent that key elements within racism, irrespective of where the definition is positioned, focus around the perception of one group by another, with furthering elements of inter-group bias and hatred. It is set within these societal values, cultures and self-worth perceptions.

Prejudice can be understood as a premature judgement; this judgement may be positive, it may be negative and possibly will be targeted in a random manner, i.e. towards a group of people or an individual (Allport, 1954). Prejudice is not an objective judgement but rather one based on stereotypical views or assumptions about the targeted recipient or group (Jost & Hamilton, 2005). It has been argued that prejudice can manifest itself by means of previous personal experience or that of someone close, whose experiences are powerful enough to affect the individual (Dovidio, Glick & Rudman, 2005). Prejudice may involve group dislike or emotions of distain or hatred towards others (Jost & Hamilton, 2005).

The traditional explanation[3] of prejudice is presented by Harvard psychologist Gordon Allport, in The Nature of Prejudice (1954, p. 9) "Prejudice is an antipathy based on faulty and inflexible generalisation. It may be felt or expressed. It may be directed toward a group or an individual of that group". Allport illustrates this with a homily: "See that man over there? Yes. Well, I hate him. But you don't know him. That's why I hate him" (p. 285). Likewise Jackson (1999) argues that inter-group hostility has no rational base; it is based upon a lack of understanding of out-groups. Williams (1964) defines "out-groups" as being oppressed or persecuted by those in the dominant group, this developing into an imbalance of power which provides advantage to the dominant group and disadvantages the out-group. The out-group is recognisable from in-(dominant) group by 'physical or cultural traits' thereby providing mechanism for social or geographical marginalisation. Out-groupers may develop a self-conscious of collectiveness or people-hood, based upon the common suffering of self-perception and burdens.

In The Nature of Prejudice Allport refers to racial and ethnic categories and how these inform on the character of stereotypes. He suggests that these values develop from how one group or person differs from another albeit in appearance, but importantly that these differences are visibly salient, "even a fragment of visibility... focuses peoples minds on the possibility that everything may be related to this fragment" (1954, p. 109).

Allport (1954) talks about categorisation as the parting of 'them' and 'us' with the focus of rejection being on the out-group. This argument implies that prejudice is a process, which occurs in the mind, but with no thought to how it could lead to bigoted practices. Dovidio and Gaertner (1999) likewise argue that prejudgements are often oversimplified and over widespread stereotypical opinions of other groups of individuals. Social categories provide individuals with social identities for which certain rules, set of laws and behaviour have to be assumed and carried out in order to 'fit in' with that group. McGarty and Penny (1998) argue that categorisation is linked to stereotyping, and hence heighten the perceived stereotypical similarities within group and highlights the differences between groups. They argue that prejudice can be viewed as ensuing from the desire for an affirmative social identity with an in-group and the perception of belonging to different groups triggers in-group preferential treatment and out-group bigotry.

Prejudice can also be a learned behaviour; the racial and prejudicial views of one's parents can often be seen mimicked in the attitudes and actions of the children. Gerstenfeld (2004) argues that "no baby is born with prejudices against other people. Considering the average 2-year-old finds talking to purple dinosaurs unremarkable, it is not surprising that very young children are pretty accepting of human beings of all shapes, colours, abilities and beliefs" (p.77). Developmentalists argue that it is only around the age of seven that children learn to stereotype; this action associated with different groups can lead to a negative perspective of a certain group and subsequent judgements about that group or individual (Gerstenfeld, 2004). Although children learn racist slurs, they may not fully understand the meaning of their words but recognise the potency and ability to bring about a reaction from their parents. Brown (1995) argues that certain prejudices are so embedded in society it is hard to avoid them. Brown includes in his discussion of common unfavourable prejudices in society, prejudice against ethnic minorities. Mackie (1996), further to this, includes age, sex, and race as common bases for prejudicial attitudes and actions. He suggests that these actions are generally displayed as non-positive critical comments, which can be used as permissible oppression, manifesting in feelings and emotions of hostility, unfounded hatred or humiliation of other out-group members.

According to Petigrewr (2006) conflict between groups is apparent throughout the world. He argues that this conflict is based upon and fuelled by discrimination and prejudice. He rightly draws upon Allport (1954) by way of fundamental grounding. According to Allport (1954), the prejudice that drives intergroup feelings is the negative opinions or thoughts that one group (in) has towards another (out) without sufficient evidence. It is for this study the 'without evidence' element of this very base and grounded definition that is fundamental in the enquiry of why white prison staff and white prisoners treat out-group black and minority ethnic prisoners differently. It is hypothesised that those whose salience is raised around racist signs and symbols will present with more racial and prejudicial tendencies to the out-group and b) those who have their mortality made salient will be more prejudice towards the out-group and also more punitive in their actions, rewards and sanctions. Pettigrewr (2006) further argues in his presentation of prejudice both blatant and subtle forms of intergroup prejudice. He postulates that both are different but inter correlated forms of prejudice, with blatant prejudice displaying more traditional traits of directness, closeness as measured in their scale of Blatant and Subtle Prejudice (Pettigrewr & Meertens, 1995). This scale consisting of two elements, a) threat and b) rejection. The measure is interesting because it deals on the one hand with elements of perceived threat to an out-group; in Pettigrewr (2006) example an out-group taking jobs that a local community should have, and secondly he deals with the rejection element by way of measures of intimacy, as with his example of acceptancy of an out-group member by means of marriage into the family group; interestingly similar in theory to the tenants of Social Distance as utilised in this study.

He supports the subtle prejudice in the 'modern' form of prejudice being cool, distant and indirect. This element forming a basis of grounding for particular approaches taken by white prison staff, white prisoners and for this study, white prison managers. He presents that subtle prejudice comprises of three elements a) traditional values and he cites out-group teachings to in-group children i.e. values and skills different to those required by the in-group society. b) With a regard to an exaggeration of the differentials of intergroup cultural views; and finally the 'denial of sympathy and admiration' (p. 2) for the out-group. Pettigrewr (2006) argues with this also supporting the hypotheses of this study that it is this final element that as a test of denial of the positive emotions, as opposed to the expression of the opposite and negative emotional elements such as hatred, envy and fear, which he postulates are normally associated with blatant prejudice. Pettigrewr (2006) further presents that critics of social psychology argue that subtle prejudice is not actual prejudice. This viewpoint is not held by the author and according to Pettigrewr (2006) - see also (Pettigrewr & Meertens, 2001) - subtle prejudice correlates highly with blatant prejudice and is a good predictor of discriminatory intentions and behaviour. He argues that it behaves exactly like blatant prejudice.

It has been argued and research indicates that people who place themselves in a particular social category in-group and who place others in separate groups or categories out-group will have the tendency to view the out-group as being different, having different societal and cultural norms and values, thereby having the propensity to treat the out-group in a more discriminatory manner (see Tajfel & Turner, 1979, Judd et al., 1991, Brewer & Brown, 1998., Fiske, 1998). According to Onorato and Turner (2004) it is the influence of self identity which remains 'fluid' in construct and that any modification in the state of affairs or social characteristics of the group to which a person has identified with will thereby bring about a social change and that it is the set of identification cues that provide the basis for this identity. Hence with a change or fluidity of the visual cues a resultant change in social identity is achieved, thereby providing the initial group member with guidance on the requirements of group membership.

It may be argued that the displaying of these visual cues, in some way forms a methodology of association, according to Turner (2008) it formulates a category of social identity thus publicly displaying and declaring membership of and affiliation to the societal values and world views of the group. According to Wiegand et al (2008) it is when this membership is made salient within the workplace that there is a propensity to increase or promote the cognitive social categorisation of employees into particular social subgroups. Furthermore they argue that it is this symbology and its association with difficult or more importantly negative to the group values and perceptions that manifest themselves as 'us and them' attitudes. More so it is argued, furthered into 'us and them' action against the out-group.

According to Kinzler, Dupoux, and Spelke, (2007) the bias towards in-groups and against out-groups is natural to human nature., Interestingly, they experiment with children and young persons arguing that that the preferential tendencies are supported by predisposed ideas that emerge at an early stage of life development with young infants more likely to accept a gift from a native language speaker and older children more likely to accept as a friend a native language speaker. They posit that there is a connection between language and social groups and that this connection is grounded in infancy, thus setting the baseline for own group preference and similar linguistic preference.

Sternberg cites a dictionary definition of hate (p. 229) as "to have strong dislike or ill will for: loath; despise" or "to dislike or wish to avoid; shrink from" (see also Neufeldt & Guralnik 1997, p. 617). However, he argues that "although this definition serves as a standing point for an understanding of hate, it is not sufficiently detailed to serve as an ending point." According to Branscombe and Smith (1990) there are four stages of a negative stereotype giving rise to hatred and hate-driven acts against stereotyped others:

  • Stage 1 is the retrieval of stereotypical information stored within one's memory, and triggered by some cue, such as a person's appearance. Such activation may occur by some sort of priming stimulus that is outside of the conscious awareness (Wittenbrink, Judd & Park, 1997).
  • Stage 2 is the combining of the available stereotype data with the entirety of other data one has available to them. This combination will come together to provide an all encompassing profile of the person's personality or traits - including the threat that they pose.
  • Stage 3 involves the decision making process whereby, given the above, one decides whether or not to act upon the data collected.
  • Stage 4 is the decision to act.

In summary, theory and research by Allport (1954) and Jost & Hamilton (2005) and others suggests that prejudice and hate are commonly based upon stereotypical views or assumptions about another group or individual. It has further been seen that certain groups rally around the collectivity of familial surrogacy and fear, supported and promulgated by the utilisation of distinctive symbology. This usage of symbols make manifest the perceived threats to the other's world cultural values and increase that which is seen to bring social divide between the dominant and non- dominant groups.

The Psychology of Race Hate

Now that race hate has been defined for the purpose of this study, I will explore psychological theories for h ow this prejudice develops. Below, I will focus primarily on three research areas of particular significance to this work: Social dominance theory, terror management theory and Sternberg's propaganda of hate.

Social Dominance and Terror Management Theory

Social dominance orientation is a focal part of a social ideology that predicts a wide range of political and racial attitudes (Pratto et al., 1994). Social dominance is arranged around some form of hierarchical framework with different layers and rankings according to the society in which it exists. Each basic layer of this hierarchical structure consists of hegemonic and dominant groups at the higher end of the scale and lesser subordinate groups at the bottom of the scale. "The dominant group is characterised by its possession of a disproportionately large share of positive social value, or all those materials and symbolic things for which people strive" (p. 31). The reverse of this is true with those groups who disproportionately share negative social value. Sidanius and Pratto (1999) argue that human social systems are prearranged as group based social hierarchies, they present that social dominance theory goes some way to identifying the various mechanisms that create and uphold this group based hierarchy and how these mechanisms act together. The orientation scale by Sidanius & Pratto is used to measure the individual differences in the extent to which people prefer inequality amongst social groups. Research by Pratto et al. (1994) supports the idea that social dominance orientation is a pivotal theme of a social ideology, predicting the racial and political attitudes.

Hudson and Esses (2005) present that in some way the systematic relations between the groups relevant individual differences and their emerging perceptions may serve to justify and legitimise ethnic bias. Immensely important for post this study actions, it is argued is the very base tenant of the root cause of the group relationships between white HMPS staff and black and minority ethnic prisoners is, dependant on personal standpoint a) prejudice is resultant from socialisation and learned practice or b) genetic hard wiring -see (Hudson & Esses, 2005) - then it is not 'what works' as HMPS appears to have focused on with the majority of its research and study, but it is argued, 'what next'. The results of this study will provide empirical evidence of systematic and institutionalised prejudice, hate and punitive application towards black and minority ethnic prisoners. Thus it is not 'what works' as it appears to the author 'not much' but for implications for HMPS and the wider society - what steps can be utilised for a reduction in prejudice, hate and punitivness to black and minority ethnic prisoners by current and future HMPS staff, policy and procedure and society as a whole.

In their presentation of lay perceptions of prejudice (2005) Hudson and Esses rightly, it is argued, assert that those reporting high in social dominance orientation endorse those ideological standpoints that support or justify intergroup attitudes and more importantly for this study out-group hostilities. It is argued that these 'legitimising myths' - social and cultural ideologies, societal values and attitudes and group beliefs that provide the justification of mistreatment for any out-group that threatens the stability or core values of the in-group; those in power or those who 'hold all the cards'. It is further argued - see (Sidanius & Pratto, 1990) that there is a male hierarchical enhancement to social roles, the author argues that this is a key factor for those employed in HMPS as it being a predominantly male hierarchical structure, thus those high in SDO being drawn to its employ, structures and societal values and beliefs that manifest themselves in the evident prejudicial treatment of others - out-group.

Hodson and Esses (2005) presented that particularly with those reporting high in SDO that they present endorsement of self belief and these also jointly presenting high in prejudice - Perhaps, it is argued, that the factors of white, apparent control or supremacy of position and in-group cultural and societal beliefs are, for white HMPS staff a recruitment or rally point similar to racial signs and symbols discussed here within the body of this paper. Perhaps, it is further argued, that it is for those high in SDO a legitimising act to join such a group or organisation as HMPS, thus perpetuating and cleansing at the same time their thoughts and beliefs around out-group prisoners under the guise of righteous legalisation governmental service - see Abu Ghraib --. According to Hudson and Esses (2005) and imperative for this study and future studies, that those high in SDO "hold beliefs about the solution to prejudice that may interfere with the effectiveness of several current strategies for reducing prejudice" (p. 342). Furthermore they argue that "this is particularly troublesome as those high in SDO in particular gravitate to positions that enable hierarchy enhancement ....... and these are most likely to be in a position to implement prejudice reduction programmes". This it is argued by the author has been demonstrated throughout recent HMPS history and, if remaining unchecked will continue to allow recruitment, continuance, promotion and development for staff. A major outcome and furtherance for this study should be a full review of the extant training package for all staff grounded in the learning from this study. Therefore it will be strongly recommended as an outcome of this study that HMPS incorporates not only this learning into its training packages but more importantly reviews its approach to the psychometric testing for recruitment and promotion especially to senior managerial positions.

This theory can be connected to "terror management theory" (TMT) (Greenberg, Pyszcynski & Solomon, 1986; Solomon, Greenburg, & Pyszcynski, 1989) in the role of perceived social threat's to one's ideology/identity. According to TMT, when a person's mortality is made salient, individuals act more positively to those who supported and upheld their worldviews and cultural values and act more negatively or punitively to those out-group members whom they believe pose a threat or challenge to their cultural values and beliefs. Rosenblatt and colleagues (1989), for instance, argue that the principles and morals that a society or culture holds in high regard exist as a form of 'cultural anxiety buffer' which provides a form of protection from the anxiety caused by their perceived vulnerability and mortality. Transgressors of these values and principles are therefore seen and acted upon with greater punitivness than those who uphold the in-groups world cultural values and goals. This pattern has been well established in the growing body of TMT research. Others have argued that the TMT effects have less to do with death-related thoughts, but more about the threats of uncertainty in general (see e.g., van Marle & Maruna, 2010).

Central to this study and vitally important for future consideration is worthy of note that according to the components of TMT it is the requirement to bring a validation to a persons world views thereby supporting and bringing about a positivism for those persons or actions which support those world views and a negativism or punitivism to those who do not - see (Greenburg, Solomon, Simon, Lyon & Pyszcynski, 1991) for further explanation. Thus it is argued that for, if the policies, procedures, management of and direction from senior managers and policy makers is that racism and out-group bias and prejudice does not exist or minimally exists, will not be supported and transgressors will be ousted from the Service then the questions that need to be asked are:

  1. What is the world cultural view
  2. Is it individual or collective
  3. Does recruitment offer this 'safe' culture to operate in
  4. Does the change happen once recruited.

These are indeed difficult questions to pose let alone respond to. However, what it is argued here is that what ever the causation of recruitment the resultant outcome is a majority in-group of white staff that will overall respond high in SDO, SD and prejudice. Furthermore with the application of the symbology this will further bring about an increase in hatred and prejudice and additionally with the mortality salience intervention a more punitive result will be evident.

As with most TMT studies the hypothesis will be that those manipulated under mortality salience will, if the variable is central display higher measures than those who were in the control group. Thus it is argued for this study that if racism, hatred and prejudice is not central to the respondent's world cultural and societal viewpoints and values the mortality salience manipulation will have no effect. However, it is further argued that it is, and at the very heart of racism, prejudice and hatred thereby demonstrating the effect, providing confirmation and validation of previously held values and beliefs.

The discussion above can be distilled into the argument that social dominance orientation, albeit not a direct measure of prejudice, is a measure of the extent of a person's predilection for inequality among social groups; this being measured by a range of dimensions including racial and ethnic prejudice, nationalism and separation. The additional argument that the raising of a persons mortality salience increases hostility to out-groups, those who threaten their societal norms is extremely relevant to this study as it is the basic tenants of TMT that elicit this preoccupation of hatred and punitivness toward others. This is further supported by the dehumanisation that one group heaps upon and directs towards another.

Sternberg and Hate Propaganda

Sternberg (2003) assigns a role to propaganda in his duplex theory of hate. He argues that hate potentially comprises of three mechanisms: the negation of intimacy, passion and commitment. The first mechanism of hatred is not intimacy or a seeking of closeness, but the opposite of intimacy or the desire to maintain a distance from the object of hatred out of feelings of disgust. Sternberg (2003) notes that this repulsion may come from the hated individual's personal characteristics or from previously viewed propaganda regarding this person or group. Such propaganda typically shows the person or group as "subhuman or inhuman or otherwise incapable of receiving, giving, or sustaining feelings of closeness, warmth, caring, communication, compassion, and respect" (Leyens et al., 2000).

Der Untermensch

"Inferior subhumans" include criminals, Jews, Gypsies, and more: The Nazis described homosexuals, prostitutes, criminals, beggars, the mentally or physically disabled, and anyone holding certain religious or political views as Untermenschen, meaning biologically inferior subhumans. They also considered all Jews, Slavs, Turks, Mongols, Gypsies, and those of African descent as Untermenschen.

History depicts many occasions in which propaganda has been used to negate intimacy in this way. The persecution of the Jews and other non Arian groups within Germany before and during World War II is the classic example, often involving bringing a particular focus onto an individual physical characteristic (see below).


According to Sternberg (2003) propaganda nurtures one or more of his three elements of hate. Propaganda, he argues, may or may not include elements of death, evil or the reinforcement of hate against out groups. Sternberg (2003) suggests that anger often is the precursor to avoid or to approach the subject of one's hatred. Propaganda, he argues, may illustrate the intended target (the individual or group) in a manner which one may perceive that the group or individual should be avoided and no should take place. This propaganda supporting the illustrations that this or these sub humans must be feared due to the threat they pose. History has seen many representations of these groups or individuals -- marauding villains, filthy Jews, thieving gypsies, homosexuals, child molesters, fascists and white supremacy groups. These groups are said to threaten the very fabric of society (as well as the individual rights of its members). Sternberg writes:

"Haters adopt a way of thinking that tends to perpetuate their own feelings of hate. Perpetrators engage in simplistic and often dichotomous thinking in targeting hate groups. (e.g. "We are good, they are bad") Often groups of haters become single minded starting to focus on the target of the hatred to the exclusion of many other things" (p. 309)

Sternberg argues that the purpose of such propaganda is to alter or amend the cognition of those members of the in-group to view those of the out-group in a negative devalued manner. Through continual or lengthy overt or covert propaganda of this sort, understanding can be altered and a commitment to hatred can be manipulated.

Propaganda has been seen to be a vital component of out-group illustration by the in-group thus altering their cognition. According to Willheim Reich (1933) it was the propaganda machine of the Nationalist Socialist Party that fuelled the fears, inadequacies, envies and (most importantly for this paper), the hatred of the populous middle class. Reich refers to an 'emotional plague' which was perpetuated through the release of symbols and images persistently offered by the Nazi machine. The National Socialists used 'revolutionary melodies' to portray their messages, reinforced with the nationalist flag, the swastika. Reich argues that the swastika was used to manipulate the unconscious of the populous. It was used extremely effectively to support the rhetoric and message of the National Socialist party. This method of repetition, operating in and through the unconscious psychology of the people, raised the salience of this image.

According to Hitler himself (Mein Kampf, p. 469):

In red we see the social idea of a movement, in white the nationalistic idea, in the swastika the mission of the struggle for victory of the Aryan man, and, by the same token, the victory of the idea of creative work, which as such always has been and always will be anti-Semitic.

Quinn (1995) likewise argues that "Nazism was fascism the swastika". Here it may be argued are two separate but intrinsically entwined opinions, one from the originator and one from a reviewer some fifty years later, that both recognise that it was the imagery of the swastika that brought about the additional fear, hatred and terror, by only just being there. This is indeed a powerful symbol.

In summary, symbols of hate have an important influence upon societal and group values. It is this cementing of a group's identity and beliefs that cause the symbol to pose and exhibit such power and control. The illustrations offered also indicate that although symbols on their own may be benign, their adaptation and usage can imbue them with negative powers. This utilisation may manifest itself in prejudicial views and hateful actions against those who do not belong to the group or societal norm.

The Symbology of Hate

Symbology plays a key role in individual and also group life. According to Bartlett (1925) symbols must be distinguished from mere signs. He argues that anything that stands for or represents something else is merely a sign. For example, the UK Highway Code utilises a visual collection of images that represent words that give direction on the correct usage of Great Britain's highways and byways. These are signs.

A symbol, on the other hand, must possess a double meaning or have multiple significance that becomes manifest when the symbol is used or displayed "even though part of it is in no way being thrust upon the attention" (p.1). The characteristic of the symbol must be recognisable from the array of other visual information that a conscious and subconscious mind is subject to. Symbols then have (at least) two sides to their composition: the one which can be visually seen (the 'front' meaning) and a second, more clandestine meaning. It is further argued that it is the secondary or subsidiary meaning that has the real impact and purveys the message. National flags are an example of symbols. What is a flag but a mere piece of cloth hanging somewhere in public display? Yet the power of such public imagery has been seen throughout history.

Symbols provide a kind of cultural adhesive and assist in the maintenance of a group's values, cultures and beliefs, even holding together a fragmenting group. Of course, the same symbol has the propensity to manifest itself in the reverse to the out-group (Bartlett, 1925). Symbols themselves are no more than pictures, images, marks on a canvas. However, the interplay of symbol with the individual subconscious can be a powerful combination. Symbols provide "rich, non-verbal language" (Pratt, 1995) for the management of relationships and identity. Symbols have been used throughout history to transmit a message or to instil process or viewpoint from one to another. It is a singular method of communication with multiple meanings. Symbols and images assist people in the organisation of their experiences and the relationships between groups (Vintean, 1993). The symbols hold an elementary position in the construction of identity. From this are structured cultural boundaries, protection and the organisation of the group's external relationships. Jung (1964) describes the importance that subliminal messages can hold for human behaviour. Such messages bombard one's subconscious constantly, bringing with it the meanings and messages they hold.

All people have some form of symbology in their lives, with the image, sign or symbol representing meaning and serving as a reminder to some set of values or beliefs. The Crucifix and the Star of David, for instance, are both powerful symbols and reminders of certain groups of religious beliefs. As Geertz (1973, p. 90) states, "Religion could be defined as a 'system of symbols' which act to establish powerful, persuasive, and long lasting moods and motivations in people". The Union Jack flag can often been seen in abundance when occurrences of national pride are made salient, for example, a coronation or a national sporting event. These symbols, powerful in their interpretation and perceived meaning are used to instil or make salient a set of beliefs, rites or rituals. Conversely, certain images, even those once representing peace and harmony have been subsequently subverted and adopted by groups who purport to other ideologies and representations. The swastika, for example, has been adopted by fascist, white supremacy and neo-Nazi groups to represent hatred and prejudice. The swastika has come to represent hate, prejudice, anti-Semitism, white-supremacy groups and neo-Nazi organisations. Through the swastika, the Nazis colonised the visual world as they did the occupied territories (Quinn, 1998).

A more contemporary example of a "good symbol turning bad" is the 'Lonsdale' clothing line a sportswear brand commonly associated with the sport of boxing in the United Kingdom. More recently, in the Netherlands, the clothing brand has been adopted first by hardcore music fans and subsequently by neo-Nazi groups. In Holland the word LONSDALE has been adopted to represent: Laat Ons Nederlanders Samen De Allochthonen Langzaam Executeren (Let Us Dutch Slowly Execute the Allochthones or persons with non-Dutch origins.

Images taken from blog sites Jan 2010.

Members of this sub-culture are designing other racist signs and symbols to express their racist views, for example by wearing white laces in black boots to symbolise white power (Fedorkin & Koevoet, 2005). Further evidence of this utilisation of fashion to provide identification and group membership in hate groups is quite apparent within the prison system. More subtle and possibly clandestine methods are in use including small elements of clothing and styles of dress as well as visual signals and handshakes. However, there are often more blatant displays of symbols as graffiti or tattoos. The following images depict one such method of display used to recruit membership to racist groups within a British prison. This example was the product of an outside fascist group imported into the closed prison environment and intercepted by staff.

These shirts illustrate current tactics for recruitment that links nationalistic pride to the Middle East conflict. The fact that this propaganda was directed at prisoners for publicity and recruitment speaks volumes.

Presumably, symbols play a key role in this propaganda of hate. However, there is relatively little research regarding the role of symbols in the development of prejudice or the generation of threats to one's worldview. Other symbols, however, have been shown to have powerful effects in laboratory-based studies.

In a recent study of the effects of exposure to the US flag on inter-group relations, Butz, Ashby Plant & Doerr (2007) found that National symbols dramatically increase in display numbers following a threat upon the cultural beliefs or values of that society. According to Johnson (1977) "National symbols, including flags and anthems, pervade most contemporary societies and their presence increases when national security is threatened". Further, presentations of nationalistic symbology have a propensity to increase perception of group unity and individual identity (Reshback & Sakano, 1997). These national symbols are representative of core values and goals that the nation or in-group hold true and that viewing this symbology may be a trigger towards these values and goals thus assisting the in-group to believe in and behave accordingly to the values of that group or collective (Johnson, 1997).

Research by Kay and colleagues (2003) demonstrates the symbolic power of even everyday objects in influencing behaviour. The researchers emphasise the role that certain objects - e.g., the display of books, journals in an academic setting, candle light in a French restaurant; briefcases and suits in a business setting -- play in the sub-conscious priming of various interpersonal and organisational contexts. They argue that raising the salience of these symbol-heavy but everyday objects can increase the cognitive accessibility of the certain constructs and play an important role in the creation of distinctive situational context and the communication of associated behavioural norms.

Weisbuch-Remington et al, (2005) suggest that religious symbols can influence motivational processes during the performance of goal-related tasks, and that conscious viewing is not necessary to instigate this influence (see also Jung, 1964). Their study involved subjects viewing religious symbols, presented outside of the participants' conscious awareness. Those who viewed the symbols manifested measurably different outcomes than the control group. They argue that the nonconscious viewing of these symbols provides a substantial influence on coping processes. They discovered evidence that raising the salience of religious symbols was influential, but only when the task was relevant to existential issues; also when the influence was personally relevant or important to the participant. They further present the argument that the visual cuing must be both task and personally relevant for it to have effect during a motivated performance task. However, it can be seen from their arguments that raising the salience of a certain symbology, albeit in this case religious symbology, the subconscious viewing does elicit tangible effects. Jung (1964) argues that conscious awareness was not required for the symbol to have an influence (see also Blascovich and Mendes, 2000). According to Weisbuch-Remington et al, (2005, p. 1206)

Within social psychology, a large empirical literature demonstrates that un-reportable stimuli in general (i.e. not necessarily religious) can be influential. Aggressive behaviour, interpretations of others behaviour, attitude, memory ability, and even physiological responses have been influenced by stimuli presented outside of the participants awareness.

It may be argued as with the power of the symbol that those who rally round and under the symbols may or may not start out racist or prejudice, but it argued here that the symbology acts as a prime thus and according to Turner (2006) that despite theory and statement that informs that conscious and unconscious are highly interdependent, it is still conceivable that a person who believes they are not prejudice is prejudiced unconsciously because "the unconscious is the reservoir of cultural learning that somehow dominates over the social present" (p. 43). Specific for the outcomes and ways forward post this study, it is argued, that collective must be altered - the in-group - thus when altering the collective as a whole then change will be effected for the individual who supports this in-group societal ideology.

According to Pass (1989) a prison environment maybe seen as an extension of the larger world it serves, this it is argued by the author provides a social micro-culture or culture within a culture for a prison. However, Pass (1989) argues that race relations in a prison should not be treated as any special form of human relations; he offers that albeit while there is racial tension in America, this is generally reflected in American prisons, but also magnified. Pass (1985) had previously argued that should there exist a greater requirement for social distance, there would be a greater opportunity for conflict to exist within a prison environment. The author draws upon this theory and argues that there is an increased element for white HMPS staff to have this greater social distance and this is manifested by virtue of their chosen profession. A purpose of this study will be to empirically demonstrate that those chosen white HMPS staff will report higher in social distance.

According to Hewstone et al, (2002), it is the getting and giving of group trust, positive thought to other group members, adopting a cooperative and empathetic approach to the in-group members but to the exclusion of the out-group members which is in itself the formulation of the initial stages of discrimination. It is argued for thus paper that it is the very tenants of in-group trust, cohesiveness and the empathetic appeal which draws together white HMPS staff, thereby the base tenant of discrimination as described here has the cultural' growing bed' to set the seed and cultivate by those hierarchical superiors thus perpetuating the discriminatory effect from the initial with the prison environment and those out-groups contained within.


The amount of racial graffiti in prisons is great, the resultant impact of this, it is argued, within this micro-culture of secure societal values and beliefs is, if left unchecked, a cause for far reaching damage both within the prison secure system but also to those placed within its care by the courts especially black and minority ethnic prisoners. The primary hypothesis of this research is that viewing racist signs and symbols increases prejudice against out-groups and factors associated with racism and hate, with this graffiti having the power and presence to affect such increases in prejudice and hate, and on the behaviours and attitudes of those who view them. These symbolic displays providing a power base of identity and recognition for those who rally round and support the out-group societal values and views. It is argued that there is a deeper more clandestine reason for this symbology, whereby an increase in social distance, social dominance and prejudice of majority manifests itself with damaging effect upon out-group members.

It has been demonstrated that racial graffiti has been a long standing concern for HMPS, with little progress being made against the raft of allegations and mistreatment of black and minority ethnic prisoners. Indeed following the alleged improvements and remedial actions emanating from the post CRE investigation and joint action plan, the reported treatment of this group of prisoners does not appear to have improved at all with black and minority ethnic prisoners still being more likely to receive sanction and punishment disproportionately to white prisoners. Important for the current concerns of HMPS and the wider society is the continued use of these signs and symbols in ways that destabilise the safety and management of those held in prison and threatens the culture and values of all affected.

A major element of this paper and the setting of the research in around the increased attachment realised when a person - in-group world cultural and societal values are threatened. It is argued that this is a primary causation for the treatment that black and minority ethnic prisoners receive at the hands of white HMPS staff with the rejection of others views, societal and cultural norms as they are collectively viewed to bring threat to the in-group thereby increasing resultant punitive actions

There are many definitions of intergroup discrimination - see (Hogg 2003) who interestingly offer the example of replacing the word 'group' in intergroup with the word 'national' or 'ethnic' which he argues then brings the dynamic of this relationship or in this case discrimination to a much clearer point. See also (Tajfel, H & Turner, J, 1979 - Pettigrewr, 2006) argument, and one which is vitally important to this study, that for HMPS this was indeed the case, that large elements of intergroup discrimination are structural, in that they often have ingrained or built in elements that may function to discriminate against certain groups within the prison structure. Furthermore that discrimination may occur even when there is no intentional discrimination by the leaders of the function or institution. He states that those leaders or heads with non-discriminatory or prejudice views may "unwittingly lead highly discriminatory institutions" (p. 3). This was and to some extent still is the case with HMPS - Consecutive Director Generals[4] have openly appeared shocked or ashamed when claim, allegation or publication has been made against the Prison Service - see text of this paper, also the similarity to the US government reaction to the allegations levied at the staff of Abu Ghraib. It is further agued by the author that for HMPS discrimination and prejudice has gone unchecked for most of its existence. This may be counter argued in that there have been policies and procedures implemented and amended over time, but as has been illustrated it took the Commission for Race Equality to come to the point of serving a discrimination notice on the Prison Service to finally (in this instance) force it as a body to take stock and review - despite a catalogue of both blatant and subtle prejudice, hatred and bias. Then and now the senior managers and directors of the Service, surely, it is argued, must have had some knowledge or understanding of this. Yet no positive action to effect change was ever undertaken to negate the treatment of out-group black and minority ethnic prisoners. Therefore it is argued that on the basis of this inability to take action, HMPS has 'tolerated' at the very least or perhaps 'turned a blind eye' to these discriminatory practices, and it has become the norm. Thereby sanctioning, it is argued, mistreatment of those black and minority ethnic prisoners in its care. Furthermore it is by this very act of tolerance or ignorance to the facts that, according to the author, it has allowed a societal norm and fostered cultural beliefs within the in-group of intolerance and sanction towards the out-group when the cultural values and beliefs of the in-group are threatened.

It is further argued that there are two components here which are worthy of discussion, firstly by allowing by perhaps ignorance, perhaps tolerance, perhaps and more possibly argued by the author, elements of both combined with an inability to face the issues and concerns so evident within a closed penal society, that it allowed, it may be argued by default a culture of hatred and discrimination to flourish, but more importantly for this study it is by the very fact that this culture and associated norm of the white HMPS staff and by default white prisoners, that when these world view values, norms and societal balances are threatened by the out-group by virtue of colour, race, creed or religion, that the resultant actions from the in-group is prejudice, discrimination and hatred. In furtherance of the hypothesis of this study it is further postulated that those already high in prejudice and racial hatred as measured within this study, will further report higher elements when their own mortality is made salient to them (TMT) thereby becoming more hateful and punitive towards those who threaten their values.

According to Wiegand et al (2008) in the US there has been many steps taken to discourage discrimination in the workplace, they site Title V11 of the Civil Rights Act 1964, which provides protection against discrimination based upon sex, race, colour, religion or natural origin. In the UK there is the Race relations Act 1974 AA 2000 which provides similar protection. The similarities are striking, yet according to Wiegand (2008) it is vitally important to train those who are either management or who are involved in the selection decision making processes are aware if their natural tendencies to place people in categories and the resultant behavioural outcomes that may result from this. Important for this study is this very issue for HMPS, if those who enter managerial roles are not made aware of or the situation eradicated then this out-group bias and discrimination will continue to flourish in spite of all the legislation and policy that exists or may be introduced in the future - This will be futile if the decision and policy makers are not made to realise what a) effects them and b) how and why.

In setting this paper within a prison environment it is to simply position outside, non-incarcerated societal norms and values into an incarcerated secure micro environmental society with the purpose of illustrating a similarity of interaction with white and non-white prisoners and staff. Furthermore the situating of this definitional concept of white against non-white prisoner and staff against a prison backdrop has highlighted the issues posed. The societal and cultural threats and dangers endemic in society are repeated in the mirrored micro environment that is a penal institution.

The displays of graffiti or visual cues form a collective group identity with the marking of territory of boundary declaring a membership and affiliation to the societal values and world views of the group. Symbols of hate displayed on walls, fences, desks, and most fabrics of a prison provide a marking of territory or boundary, more importantly they provide a 'message' of fear and hatred.

Therefore on the one hand it is argued that the symbols of hate have a recruitment and retention function and on the other a more clandestine influence as a social change element of the in-group HMPS. Whilst at the same time creating the 'closed-shop' in-group that bonds white HMPS staff together. The results of this study will provide empirical evidence of systematic and institutionalised prejudice, hate and punitive application towards black and minority ethnic prisoners - what steps can be utilised for a reduction in prejudice, hate and punitivness to black and minority ethnic prisoners by current and future HMPS staff, policy and procedure and society as a whole.

In summary, symbols of hate have an important influence upon societal and group values. It is this cementing of a group's identity and beliefs that cause the symbol to pose and exhibit such power and control. Specific for the outcomes and ways forward post this study, it is argued, that collective must be altered -the in-group - thus when altering the collective as a whole then change will be effected for the individual who supports this in-group societal ideology


This research is intended to observe the effects of symbolic priming on out-group hostility, measured with the British Prejudice Scale, designed as a measure of anti-black prejudice; a Social Dominance Orientation Scale, measuring the importance of racial and political attitudes; and various sub-components from a Social Distance Scale, measuring the extent by which people want to avoid social with those from different racial, ethnic, national or social groups.

An initial pilot study has already been undertaken with full ethical approval obtained from HM Prison Service. Further replications and additional testing will be undertaken to explore whether increasing a participants' mortality salience has an impact on racial and prejudicial views. A series of tests will be undertaken to test the hypothesis across a further and differing range of prisoners and HMPS staff. The initial pilot study will be replicated across the series of different sample groups, chosen on theoretical grounds. The decision was made to recruit prisoners for this research because of the on-going problem of racially motivated hostility in the prison environment.

The second test will replicate the initial study design (with some minor modifications and improvements to the imagery used), (see Appendix B for improved image selection) but also include a mortality salience testing element[5]. The sample will be drawn among life sentence prisoners in a Stage-Two Category B male training prison. Again, two variables being used for selection: white-British ethnicity and single-cell occupancy. Anticipated sample size: control (n=100) and experiment (n=100).

The third test will replicate the second study with a sample of HM prison staff with an additional out-group measure of punitivness being introduced; and with one variable being used for selection, white-British ethnicity. Anticipated sample size: control (n=100) and experiment (n=100).

Pilot Study

The pilot study was undertaken to provide initial data and understanding into whether viewing racist signs and symbols increase self-reported levels of prejudice and other factors associated with race hate in the prison context . The primary hypothesis tested was that viewing racist signs and symbols increases prejudice against out-groups and factors associated with racism and hate. This was tested using three scales: British Prejudice scale, Social Dominance Orientation scale and the Social Distance scale.

The results of this study clearly indicate that those prisoners who received the additional material in the package, the symbols, self-reported higher levels of prejudice and segregation than those in the control group who did not.


The sample for the pilot study, already undertaken, was drawn from a Category C[6] male training prison in England with two variables being used for selection: white-British ethnicity and single-cell occupancy[7]. Sample size: control (n=100) and experiment (n=100). From the prison population that day (n=709), sampling was achieved by a run of the Local Inmate Data System (LIDS)[8] against two variables, self reported ethnicity and single cell occupancy, thus ensuring a correct sample selection. Consideration was given to the concerns and impact of an inadequate sample; however, the size of both groups negated any concerns of under representation. From the (n=441) available population on that day[9], the subset consisted of (n = 200) (45%), of which (n = 100) were randomly assigned to the experimental group and (n = 100) to the control group. It was therefore assumed that due to the size of each sample, the attitudes and emotions would be a reflection of the total prison population. Also as the sample subset consisted of nearly half the population it was further deemed a representative sample. Selection bias was considered at this stage, but again because of the subset size, and similarity in sentence progression i.e. security classification 'C', there would be no selection bias through under or over representation.

Probability sampling methodology was applied for selection; thus all prisoners from the available population group had an equal chance of being selected. Random selection by cell location number was applied, thereby additionally providing space between cells to negate any possibility of discussion or 'collective decision making, and ensuring singularity of response. This simplistic approach was adopted to keep sampling error to a minimum. A non-respondent rate of about 15% for each group[10] was noted and acknowledged to be a source on non-sampling error; however, this was disregarded, due to the parity of non-response between groups. It is further acknowledged that the sample size is generalisable to the population of the selected prison and category of prisoner. It is further acknowledged that it is not generalisable to the wider prison population or prisons across the HMPS estate.

Demographics were selected to provide the demographic variables necessary for further analysis, and to ensure all respondees were self classified as White-British. The demographic variable encompasses the new perceptional ethnicity groupings (16+1)[11] and therefore, although error was not anticipated, in fact it occurred but in a minor way; the four questionnaires were discounted for the final analysis.


Method of Administration

The hypothesis of the research was that viewing racist signs and symbols will increase the salience of factors associated with hate in self-reported levels of prejudice. In order to investigate this link, an experimental design was used. The experiment was a measure of cause and effect, with the deliberate manipulation of one variable, in this case the introduction of the symbols. The purpose of the experiment was to perform an empirical test of the hypothesis: it was anticipated the results of the experiment would be consistent with the hypothesis, thus establishing the link between viewing racist signs and symbols with an increase in the self-reported levels of prejudice.

The experiment entailed two randomly assigned groups, one experimental and one control. The independent variable being the viewing of certain visual cues and the dependant variable being the changes in salience of factors associated with hate, specifically scores on measures of racial prejudice. The experimental group was exposed to the racist signs and symbols, the control group was not. Afterwards both groups received the same questionnaire containing questions measuring their racial prejudices. Selection of a self-complete questionnaire was chosen to facilitate easy of delivery. There were no security issues or concerns identified at a preliminary administration meeting between the researcher and the establishment Head of Security and Operations. Issues around literacy and response rates were considered but it was felt that revealing the true purpose of the study or by individual personal facilitation, may reveal the true nature. However, the original administering methodology had to be amended at the last minute.[12]

The process of administering the survey was carried out during one weekday evening. All respondents were in their cells under normal end of evening association routines[13], there had been no incidents during the day and no alteration to the normal mid-week routine. Participants were randomly divided into experimental (n=100) and Control (n=100) groups. Each group was informed that they are participating in a study of political attitudes and views. Each group was provided with a pack containing typed instructions and a closed-ended survey (with a small number of open-ended items). For both the control and experimental groups, the first part of the survey involved a political questionnaire containing images taken from either the current political theatre (e.g., a Union Jack symbol) or every day life (e.g., MacDonald's Golden Arch). For the experimental group only, this section also included additional "hate" imagery (e.g., swastikas) interspersed among the other symbols. Both groups were instructed to respond to the following four statements:

  • Do you know what this symbol is?
  • Do you know what it represents?
  • What does it means to you?
  • How does it make you feel?

Directly following this questionnaire each participant was presented with the following three scales:

  • British Prejudice Scale
  • Social Dominance Orientation.
  • Social Distance Scale

See Appendix A for full survey.

To ensure that all participants were protected from social injury, anonymity was preserved. A cover explanatory sheet was attached to the survey and was the same for both control and treatment groups. This sheet gave instructions for the completion of the questionnaire and also noted, "Your response will be kept in strict confidence, and no individual will be identified. Please do NOT write your name on this questionnaire and seal it in the envelope provided before you hand it back, this will guarantee your anonymity". The cover sheet went on to explain "If you feel tired, you may take a break when you want, you are under no obligation to complete this questionnaire and you may choose not to answer any question(s) you find disturbing". Of the 171 responses none were marked in any identifiable way and no

The Commission began to consider the possibility of a formal investigation into HM Prison Service in the spring of 2000, based on evidence of problems in one particular establishment, HMP Brixton. The evidence was of unlawful racial discrimination and victimisation suffered over several years by a prison officer at HMP Brixton. The Commission had represented the prison officer, Claude Johnson, in three complaints to the employment tribunal, the first of which was made in 1993. The decision on this case exposed what the employment tribunal called 'a campaign of appalling treatment' which amounted to unlawful racial discrimination and victimisation (C A Johnson v Armitage, Marsden and HM Prison Service, 1995). The second case, brought in 1994, was settled in 1996 on terms that should have enabled Mr Johnson to resume work in a non-racist environment. However, in 1998 Mr Johnson submitted a third case to the employment tribunal. On 17 March 2000, the tribunal upheld this complaint as discrimination by way of victimisation. The cases raised concerns for the Commission about the treatment of prison staff and prisoners at HMP Brixton. In particular, the Commission was disturbed by what appeared to be a complete failure and unwillingness by prison managers to learn anything from the initial, highly critical tribunal decision or to comply with the terms of the 1996 settlement, to which they had formally agreed. (NOMS, 2008)

An offence is described as any violation of Prison Rules. Punishment would be a result of a finding of guilt on a prisoner adjudication which is an inquisitorial process but with a range of sanctions available to the adjudicator. Complaints in a universal but internal three stage system to allow a prisoner to make a complaint about any subject and be provided with a written response at each stage. Re-categorisation is a process that allows prisoners to move through their sentence and category towards eventual release.

Summer (1906), formerly documented in-group/out-group distinctions as a basis of bias; it was Allport who brought focus on the ordinariness and predictability of categorising social groups. Social classification is, at present, recognised as a primary process in the development and continuation of prejudice.

Director General is the head of the then HMPS and now NOMS

This element is used in TMT to raise the salience of a responder's mortality. This is usually facilitated by including two mortality salience questions commonly utilised in TMT research. It is common practise when administering this type of intervention that for the control group, these two questions will be replaced by two neutral questions exploring their thoughts around television viewing. The TMT questions would be as follows:

  1. Please briefly describe the emotions that the thought of your own death arouses in you.
  2. Jot down, as specifically as you can, what you think will happen to you as you physically die and once you are physically dead.
  3. Category C is a security classification that is for prisoners who are not suitable for open-conditions but are unlikely to try to escape
  4. Single cell occupancy equates to one prisoner located in one cell
  5. Local Inmate Data System is the electronic data recording system which holds all prisoner information including ethnicity and cellular location.
  6. All remaining population
  7. Spoilt or non-return
  8. Perceptional ethnicity reporting standard codes
  9. For illustration, the experiment was originally set up to make use of various 'focus groups' of prisoners ostensibly to hear about their political views. It was intended to facilitate, through the establishment Psychology department, a number of focus groups, Each group commencing with set scripted introduction, to ensure consistency, then followed by open-ended discussion about current political issues and topics of interest. The experimental groups would additionally have the introduction of the signs and symbols by means of a PowerPoint presentation in a subdued lit room. The same four questions would be used in a semi-structured manner and the responses noted. Immediately following this the questionnaire would be administered to each attendee. The advantages of this would have been a greater completion rate, the opportunity to collect additional quantative, narrative data and control over the point of introduction to the racist signs and symbols. However, after planning and formulating this approach and method of administration of the experiment, it was not possible to proceed. The establishment Psychology department withdrew its offer of assistance due to an unforeseen concern regarding availability of staff. It was not deemed appropriate for a uniformed staff member to facilitate these focus groups, as this could negate trust or limit the openness of response from the prisoners. Therefore, the experiment was conducted in the reported manner. However, the researcher fully recognises and acknowledges the limitations of the experiment. Full piloting of the questionnaire was undertaken. Throughout the experiment the researcher attempted, as much as achievable in the environment, to keep the other variables constant.
  10. Allowed out of cell to mix with other prisoners.

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