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To what extent did Lennox Castle fit Goffman(TM)s account of the total institution(TM)? How far is this reflected in the staff(TM)s and residents(TM) experience of care at the Hospital?

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Introduction

To what extent did Lennox Castle fit Goffman's account of the 'total institution'? How far is this reflected in the staff's and residents' experience of care at the Hospital? In order to answer the above question I will need to determine what Erving Goffman meant by the term 'total institution'. I shall also look at his theories on the characteristics of such an environment and the concept behind the label. I shall then write of Lennox Castle, how it operates, its inhabitant's experiences of care, concluding with the extent to which Lennox Castle fits in with Goffman's total institution ideas. On page 70 of the reader, (Allott and Robb 1998) K. Jones and A.J. Fowles outline Goffman's definition of 'total institution' as a workplace and residence where a like-situated group of people, cut off from society for the foreseeable future, lead a sheltered and formally administered life. Goffman's four characteristics of total institutions are laid out in Unit 8 (p.127), the first being batch living. This is where a person lives under surveillance and when authority is defining his or her life. They will have no choice of friends or freedom of movement, living each day with the same group of people and participating in a life of repetitive routine. ...read more.

Middle

It is expected at this stage to see three very different perspectives and my findings can be used to further determine the extent in which Lennox Castle fits into Goffman's theories of total institution. The DVD documentary introduces Mr Colin Sproul, a male nurse who was employed by the hospital for thirty-eight years. Colin paints a fairly negative picture of his employment and his employers. Colin talks of a Mr Chislett, the authoritarian of the hospital who used his position to his own advantage. Colin refers to this man as a "big shot" and "God Almighty", a man who made staff and residents work for him and the hospital, both officially and unofficially, in return for ten cigarettes per week. This type of relationship between employer and employee can be labelled binary management, as Mr Chislett determined the use for his staff and residents and dictated how they should 'serve' him. Colin also goes on to recollect many situations that can be listed under Goffman's batch living title. He also recollects the financial downfalls of working for the Castle and the poor quality of life the Castle offered in return for full-time work. Colin recollects that for full bed and board his employers took over half his salary each week and that the establishment provided bland food in a menu that never changed. ...read more.

Conclusion

Margaret has been able to break away from her institutionalisation and experience life as an independent human being living in a normal society, and always knew the importance of her own independence regardless of what punishment she may have had experienced. Colin also has his own opinion of the establishment's perspective on how staff and residents should be treated and can now, after living in a normal society, see how inhumane the authoritarians really were. James and Colin remembered the tea dances with fondness yet their enjoyment was overshadowed again by the extent to which they were allowed to enjoy themselves. Again, they found themselves subjects of binary management and batch living. In conclusion, it looks as though Lennox Castle hospital is a prime example of a total institution and after this research I agree with the narrators conclusions of Lennox Castle, describing it as a strong impenetrable society of people working and living side by side, while their lives are dominated by the hospital. Jones and Fowles, in Allott and Robb, Chapter 8 (p 72), note that as the resident's stay is prolonged, there becomes a greater loss of personal identity and I think that this relates particularly to resident James, who I would argue has been institutionalised. Three completely different people could have emerged if James, Colin and Margaret had of been allowed freedom of expression, personal identity and basic human rights. ...read more.

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