Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Dr. Stacey Hannem

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor

Second Advisor

Dr. Carrie Sanders

Advisor Role

Committee Member (Second Reader)



The external and institutional stressors that correctional officers face while performing their duties, such as managing a demanding workload, staffing shortages, and monitoring potentially dangerous inmates, have received some attention in the literature. However, researchers have not examined correctional officers’ perceptions of how others view their role and professional identity—whether prisoners, their families, or members of the general public—and how these perceptions are believed to influence an officer’s perspective of their work and their well-being. To explore this gap in the literature, this project seeks to analyze whether or not correctional officers sense these perceptions while performing their duties and if acknowledging these attitudes influences their views of the job.

This study is interpretive and framed around the emerging perceptions and experiences of correctional officers and sensitizing concepts of stigma (Goffman, 1963), the “looking-glass self” (Cooley, 1902) and symbolic interactionism (Blumer, 1969). Ten male and female correctional officers employed with the Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services were interviewed about their workplace experiences and about the portrayal and public engagement of correctional news media. The analyses found that officers view their work through three distinct perspectives (individual, media-centred and organizational).

Keywords: correctional officers, perceptions, experiences, perspectives, symbolic interactionism, perceived stigma

Convocation Year


Convocation Season