The relevance of social dreaming for action research: exploring jail workers’ unconscious thinking of the changes in the prison organization
The contribution focuses on how dreams can be investigated as social phenomena in a manner which illuminates the role of the individual in a particular group and elucidates unconscious group processes in an organization. The article presents an experience of adopting Lawrence’s social dreaming (SD) matrices in a new a specific field: an Italian prison which has shifted in the last two decades from a punitive to a rehabilitative mission. The aim of the experience was twofold: i) to help jail workers, through a formative experience, gaining a deeper understanding of how the new prison environment influences their emotional experience and work functioning; ii) to collect the emotional climate, the feelings, and the critical issues among the prison staff, in order to gain insights for the authorities responsible for the regulation of correctional facility. The experience of SD included 4 matrices, involving a total of 12 participants: 7 prison officers and 5 educators. The main thematic areas emerged from the matrices are related to: trust, competence, professional identity, separateness and privacy, safety, and to the gender differences. All the themes are presented and discussed, along with dreams and free associations. The present work is, to our knowledge, the first attempt to apply the tool of social dreaming to the context of correctional facility all over the world. The described experience might serve as an example of the applicability of this mode of analytic exploration to institutions or organizations, and the contribution opens to reflection and some implications.
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