Master of Arts (MA)
<--Please Select Program Name/Specialization-->
Faculty of Arts
Dr. Carrie Sanders
Dr. Stacey Hannem
Correctional work is characterized by high rates of occupational stress, which can produce a plethora of negative outcomes for the officers employed within such institutions. The present study examines Canadian provincial correctional officers’ perceptions of how occupational stress is created within the context of their employment. Through in-depth interviews with 11 correctional officers, I examine the political, organizational, and cultural factors that are perceived to negatively affect employee stress and well-being. From this analysis, I present three principal arguments. First, I uncover how correctional officers perceive ministerial policies to be loosely coupled from frontline practices. I argue that this loose coupling can create occupational stress, as correctional officers may experience frustration in navigating daily tasks in accordance with orders that they perceive to be irrelevant or impractical. Second, I argue that occupational stress that is connected to ministerial policies can be further amplified by institutional managers, as ministry guidelines are enforced within institutional operations. Further, I contend that officers perceive institutional supervisors to normalize traumatic and stressful events that occur in the line of duty. Third, I examine how the occupational culture exhibited within correctional work, which reflects notions of hegemonic masculinity, maintains the potential to trivialize occupational stress. I argue that this occupational culture places emphasis on the adoption of physical, psychological, and emotional strength, which may lead officers to perceive colleagues struggling with occupational stress or mental health concerns in a negative manner.
Baker, Victoria M., "Loose Coupling and Defining Deviance Down: Correctional Officers’ Perceptions of Organizational Responses to Mental Health and Well-being." (2017). Theses and Dissertations (Comprehensive). 1984.