Moral shocks and small wins: Encouraging firms based in liberal societies to behave integratively towards former prisoners

Prue Burns, Christopher Nyland, Richard Frederick Cooney, Jan Schapper

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2 Citations (Scopus)


In this article, we contend that employers’ willingness to provide former prisoners with integrative forms of employment is related to the extent to which liberal societies abstract, idealise and prioritise the interests of the self over the interests of society. Using the United States of America as a critical case to illustrate this argument, we unite the neoinstitutional sociology of organisations with Weick’s small wins approach to problem solving to show how an especially individualistic embodiment of liberalism contributes to the construction of a social and institutional reality that discourages firms from behaving integratively towards former prisoners. In so doing, we produce a conceptual framework that points to ways by which the scarcity of integrative firms within individualist liberal societies might be addressed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)417-439
Number of pages23
JournalPunishment & Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2017


  • employer attitudes
  • ex-offenders
  • ex-prisoners
  • liberal individualism
  • liberalism
  • neoinstitutionalism
  • new institutionalism
  • prisoner re-entry
  • prisoner reintegration

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