Catalogue


Games prisoners play : the tragicomic worlds of Polish prison /
Marek M. Kaminski.
imprint
Princeton, NJ : Princeton University Press, c2004.
description
xvi, 215 p.
ISBN
0691117217 (cloth : alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Princeton, NJ : Princeton University Press, c2004.
isbn
0691117217 (cloth : alk. paper)
catalogue key
5162307
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Marek M. Kaminski is Assistant Professor of Political Science and Mathematical Behavior Science at the University of California, Irvine.
Excerpts
Flap Copy
"Games Prisoners Playis not just a superb description of prison life but also a provocative analysis of why the choices prisoners make under difficult circumstances are rational. The lens through which Kaminski views these choices is elementary game theory, which he uses to elucidate the subtleties of different strategic situations in a highly imaginative way. This book ranks with only a handful of works I know of that apply game theory, in depth, to unusual subjects and end up enriching both the subject and the theory."--Steven J. Brams, New York University, author ofTheory of Movesand coauthor ofFair Division: From Cake-Cutting to Dispute Resolution "An exceptionally interesting book, and a very engaging read,Games Prisoners Playis bound to make a major impact on scholarship in the field. I would be very surprised if it did not become a staple reference for any study of prison life for years to come."--Diego Gambetta, author ofThe Sicilian Mafia "A terrific achievement. Marek Kaminski combines a unique 'fieldwork' in Polish prisons with insightful models of prisoners' behavior. This is an exceptional contribution to the ethnography of prison life and an imaginative application of game theory. It is also a memoir in its own right."--Federico Varese, author ofThe Russian Mafia
Reviews
Review Quotes
"Written with refreshing directness--funny and horrible by turns--and complemented by delightful illustrations, Games Prisoners Play . . . makes a highly original contribution to the literature on prisons. The book will also prove valuable for introducing game theory. . . . There could be no better advertisement for rational choice."-- Michael Biggs, American Journal of Sociology
Written with refreshing directness--funny and horrible by turns--and complemented by delightful illustrations, Games Prisoners Play . . . makes a highly original contribution to the literature on prisons. The book will also prove valuable for introducing game theory. . . . There could be no better advertisement for rational choice. -- Michael Biggs, American Journal of Sociology
Written with refreshing directness--funny and horrible by turns--and complemented by delightful illustrations,Games Prisoners Play. . . makes a highly original contribution to the literature on prisons. The book will also prove valuable for introducing game theory. . . . There could be no better advertisement for rational choice. -- Michael Biggs, American Journal of Sociology
An exceptionally interesting book, and a very engaging read,Games Prisoners Playis bound to make a major impact on scholarship in the field. I would be very surprised if it did not become a staple reference for any study of prison life for years to come.
A terrific achievement. Marek Kaminski combines a unique 'fieldwork' in Polish prisons with insightful models of prisoners' behavior. This is an exceptional contribution to the ethnography of prison life and an imaginative application of game theory. It is also a memoir in its own right.
Games Prisoners Playis not just a superb description of prison life but also a provocative analysis of why the choices prisoners make under difficult circumstances are rational. The lens through which Kaminski views these choices is elementary game theory, which he uses to elucidate the subtleties of different strategic situations in a highly imaginative way. This book ranks with only a handful of works I know of that apply game theory, in depth, to unusual subjects and end up enriching both the subject and the theory.
Written with refreshing directness--funny and horrible by turns--and complemented by delightful illustrations, Games Prisoners Play . . . makes a highly original contribution to the literature on prisons. The book will also prove valuable for introducing game theory. . . . There could be no better advertisement for rational choice.
Winner of the 2004 Distinguished Book Award, European Academy of Sociology
This item was reviewed in:
PW Annex Reviews, July 2004
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
On March 11, 1985, a van was pulled over in Warsaw for a routine traffic check that turned out to be anything but routine. Inside was Marek Kaminski, a Warsaw University student who also ran an underground press for Solidarity. The police discovered illegal books in the vehicle, and in a matter of hours five secret police escorted Kaminski to jail. A sociology and mathematics major one day, Kaminski was the next a political prisoner trying to adjust to a bizarre and dangerous new world. This remarkable book represents his attempts to understand that world. As a coping strategy until he won his freedom half a year later by faking serious illness, Kaminski took clandestine notes on prison subculture. Much later, he discovered the key to unlocking that culture--game theory. Prison first appeared an irrational world of unpredictable violence and arbitrary codes of conduct. But as Kaminski shows in riveting detail, prisoners, to survive and prosper, have to master strategic decision-making. A clever move can shorten a sentence; a bad decision can lead to rape, beating, or social isolation. Much of the confusion in interpreting prison behavior, he argues, arises from a failure to understand that inmates are driven not by pathological emotion but by predictable and rational calculations. Kaminski presents unsparing accounts of initiation rituals, secret codes, caste structures, prison sex, self-injuries, and of the humor that makes this brutal world more bearable. This is a work of unusual power, originality, and eloquence, with implications for understanding human behavior far beyond the walls of one Polish prison.
Bowker Data Service Summary
The prison environment forces an inmate to behave hyper-rationally. It teaches both patience in planning and in the pursuit of goals and severe punishment for disobedience. This book examines how prisoners adapt to such a regime, their subculture and their attempts at optimization.
Back Cover Copy
" Games Prisoners Play is not just a superb description of prison life but also a provocative analysis of why the choices prisoners make under difficult circumstances are rational. The lens through which Kaminski views these choices is elementary game theory, which he uses to elucidate the subtleties of different strategic situations in a highly imaginative way. This book ranks with only a handful of works I know of that apply game theory, in depth, to unusual subjects and end up enriching both the subject and the theory."--Steven J. Brams, New York University, author of Theory of Moves and coauthor of Fair Division: From Cake-Cutting to Dispute Resolution "An exceptionally interesting book, and a very engaging read, Games Prisoners Play is bound to make a major impact on scholarship in the field. I would be very surprised if it did not become a staple reference for any study of prison life for years to come."--Diego Gambetta, author of The Sicilian Mafia "A terrific achievement. Marek Kaminski combines a unique 'fieldwork' in Polish prisons with insightful models of prisoners' behavior. This is an exceptional contribution to the ethnography of prison life and an imaginative application of game theory. It is also a memoir in its own right."--Federico Varese, author of The Russian Mafia
Back Cover Copy
" Games Prisoners Play is not just a superb description of prison life but also a provocative analysis of why the choices prisoners make under difficult circumstances are rational. The lens through which Kaminski views these choices is elementary game theory, which he uses to elucidate the subtleties of different strategic situations in a highly imaginative way. This book ranks with only a handful of works I know of that apply game theory, in depth, to unusual subjects and end up enriching both the subject and the theory."-- Steven J. Brams, New York University, author of Theory of Moves and coauthor of Fair Division: From Cake-Cutting to Dispute Resolution "An exceptionally interesting book, and a very engaging read, Games Prisoners Play is bound to make a major impact on scholarship in the field. I would be very surprised if it did not become a staple reference for any study of prison life for years to come."-- Diego Gambetta, author of The Sicilian Mafia "A terrific achievement. Marek Kaminski combines a unique 'fieldwork' in Polish prisons with insightful models of prisoners behavior. This is an exceptional contribution to the ethnography of prison life and an imaginative application of game theory. It is also a memoir in its own right."-- Federico Varese, author of The Russian Mafia
Table of Contents
List of Figuresp. xi
List of Tablesp. xiii
Acknowledgmentsp. xv
Introductionp. 1
Entryp. 16
The Constraints of Prison Life: An Overviewp. 21
Material Constraintsp. 22
Administrative Constraintsp. 29
Subcultural Constraints: A Glimpse at the World of Grypsmenp. 34
Note on Importation versus Deprivationp. 37
Becoming a Grypsmanp. 38
Initiation Testsp. 38
First Screening: Fag-Making and Baptismp. 41
Little Gamesp. 46
Hidden Testsp. 51
Prison Universityp. 54
Prison Code of Behaviorp. 56
The Semi-Secret Codep. 58
The Secret Codep. 65
Sanctions and Intercaste Mobilityp. 76
Argotp. 82
Argot Vocabularyp. 82
Argot Rolesp. 85
Secret Argot Grammarp. 89
Language Gamesp. 95
Everyday Lifep. 101
Random Walk through the Cell Archipelagop. 101
Information and Trade Marketsp. 104
Coalitional Structures and Resource-Sharingp. 111
Arenas of Art and Entertainmentp. 116
Fights and Exploitationp. 124
Sex, Flirtation, Lovep. 130
Masturbationp. 131
Fagsp. 134
Womenp. 138
Strategic Ailmentp. 145
Goals of Strategic Ailmentp. 147
Techniques of Strategic Ailmentp. 149
Cases of Self-Injuryp. 155
Cases of Fakingp. 163
Exitp. 169
Postscriptum: Variants and Evolution of Grypsmen Subculturep. 172
Local Variants and Modificationsp. 172
The Evolution of Grypsmen Subculturep. 178
Prison Playground: Games and Decisionsp. 183
Glossary: Essential Argotp. 191
Notesp. 197
Referencesp. 205
Indexp. 209
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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