Golfing with a Murderer: Professional Indifference and Identity Work in a Danish Prison

Jeanette Lemmergaard, Sara Louise Muhr

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Employees often use dis-identification strategies such as humor or cynicism to cope with emotional difficulties at work. In this paper, we show how dis-identification collapses among Danish correctional officers because of specific emotional contradictions arising from the ‘dirty’ aspects of their work. Correctional officers face the emotional dilemma of having to both get involved with the inmates to rehabilitate them and be suspicious of them to maintain security. At the same time, they have to deal with the stigma of their job and cannot easily vent their emotional experiences with outsiders. It therefore becomes difficult to uphold a positive and coherent sense of self. In order to maintain a dignified sense of self and a positive attitude towards work correctional officers construct a space of professional indifference.
Original languageEnglish
JournalScandinavian Journal of Management
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)185-195
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012


  • Correctional Officers
  • Professional Indifference
  • Identity Work
  • Emotion Labor
  • Dirty Work
  • Dis-Identification

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