When words fail, music speaks: Understanding the processes and outcomes of musicking in prisons

Project Details


Although there is a growing body of research on musicking during
imprisonment, these studies lack strong theoretical underpinnings.
This project responds to this need by conducting a realist evaluation
to better understand how, why, for whom and under which
circumstances musicking in prison contributes to managing and
expressing emotions, self-development, respite and connections –
aspects of which it is increasingly recognized that they contribute to
secondary desistance of crime. At first, initial program theories are
generated by interviewing key stakeholders and conducting a realist
literature review. In a subsequent phase, a theory-based intervention
framework for musicking in prison is developed. In a third phase, the
intervention framework is implemented and tested in two cases,
using the most significant change technique to evaluate the
outcomes, mechanisms and context of the programs, leading to
case-specific CMO-configurations. In the last phase a cross-case
analysis is undertaken to transform the initial program theories into
more refined middle-range theories that unravel the generative
mechanisms and associated contextual factors through which
musicking leads (or fails to lead) to the four desired outcomes for
prisoners. The project will thus generate innovative theoretical and
practical knowledge that enables a better understanding of the how
and when of musicking in prison.
Effective start/end date1/11/2131/10/23


  • Prison learning
  • Musicking
  • Realist evaluation

Flemish discipline codes

  • Cultural participation
  • Informal learning
  • Correctional theory, offender treatment and rehabilitation
  • Punishment and criminal justice
  • Music pedagogy


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