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Prisons Research Centre



Elinor started her PhD in October 2018, and is being supervised by Professor Alison Liebling. Her research aims to explore forms of informal inter-prisoner caregiving. It suggests that communion and mutual support are fundamental features of the prison society, operating alongside some of the more commonly researched aspects of prison social life such as power hierarchies, violence, individualism and internal exploitative economies. While prisoner memoirs are often full of moving portrayals of kindness and friendship, these remain largely absent in academic accounts of imprisonment. In an environment filled with mistrust, this study sets out to investigate how care grows, and how is it regulated by prisoners, staff, and by the structural characteristics of the prison.

Elinor has recently completed fieldwork in HMP Warren Hill, where she spent five months conducting interviews, semi-ethnographic observations and social network analysis.

Previously, Elinor completed her MPhil in Criminological Research (distinction) at the Institute, and her undergraduate degree in Criminology and Anthropology (distinction) at Bar-Ilan University in Israel. She also continues to be involved with the Evaluation of Shared Reading Groups in Psychologically Informed Planned Environments project, working alongside Alison Liebling, Katherine Auty and Judith Gardom.


Key publications: 

Liebling, A., Williams, R., and Lieber, E. (2020) ‘More mind games: how ‘the action’ and ‘the odds’ have changed in prison’, British Journal of Criminology.

 Laws, B. and Lieber E. (2020) ‘King, Warrior, Magician & Lover: Understanding expressions of care among male prisoners’, European Journal of Criminology.

 Liebling A, Laws B, Lieber E, Auty K, Schmidt B, Crewe B, Gardom J, Kant D, & Morey M. (2019). Are hope and possibility achievable in prison? Howard Journal of Crime and Justice 58(1): 104-126.


Awards and Funding:

2018–22    Full PhD studentship, Gates Cambridge Scholarship

2017          Proxime accessit for the Manuel López-Rey Graduate Prize, Institute of Criminology 

2017          The Boak Student Support Fund, Clare Hall College, Cambridge

PhD Student
 Elinor  Lieber
Not available for consultancy