Resilience and possible selves of formerly incarcerated Black men

Le Mont Lee, Fordham University


This dissertation study explored the effects of incarceration on the possible selves and resilience of Black men. Twelve participants were selected for the study with each filling out demographic questionnaires and participating in in-depth, semi-structured interviews. The interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using grounded theory methodology. All of the participants were residing in New York at the time of their interviews and all but one participant, who was raised in New Jersey, were also raised in New York. Participants’ cumulative length of incarceration ranged from one month to over thirty years. The purpose of the interviews was to explore how participants’ possible selves and resilience changed over time, particularly when factoring in the experience of incarceration, and also how the psychologically taxing experiences of incarceration molded participants’ identities. Results of the study indicated that participants saw their possibilities decrease and obstacles increase over time due to the experience of incarceration. These effects served to constrict participants’ agency while necessitating heightened resilience in order to realize aspirations. Clinical and training implications are provided for those in a position to support the educational and vocational aspirations of formerly incarcerated Black men.

Subject Area

African American Studies|Social psychology|Criminology

Recommended Citation

Lee, Le Mont, "Resilience and possible selves of formerly incarcerated Black men" (2016). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10116315.