The Comparison of UMass/Boston and a Total Institution

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The Comparison of UMass/Bostonand a Total Institution

Goffman described the totalinstitutions as places that are enclosed and the staff oversees everyactivity that the inmates undertake. The University ofMassachusetts Boston(UMass/Boston) might be considered as a total institution given thatnearly all the life activities of the inmates take place in the sameplace and the events follow a tight schedule. In fact, the staffs arethe professors, and they have to oversee the activities the inmatesthat are the students undertake. However, UMass/Boston has otherqualities that prevent it from looking like a total institution sinceit has friendlier professors that are ready to support the students.The inmates are not completely separated from the community and theyhave a chance to interact with everyone outside the university. Thispaper will illustrate the way that the UMass/Boston has nearly allthe activities happening in the compound and on a tight scheduleyet, the staffs are friendlier, and they do not treat the inmatesharshly.

Waysin which UMass/Boston is similar to a Total Institution

The UMass/Boston is similar tothe total institution since all the activities of life tend to occurin the same place and the people in the institution are treated in asimilar way. The students also have to undertake the activities thatwill be placed on a tight schedule. A look at the UMass/Boston showsthat the students are supposed to learn and live in the school’scompound. In fact, the university has hostels where the students liveand handle their daily chores. Apart from that, they are expected toundertake their learning activities in the lecture rooms that theuniversity has also provided. The students are also treated in thesame way since they have one goal that is achieving academic success.The school has strict policies that are against the racial or evengender discrimination. In this case, the students will have an equalopportunity to receive education and they will have the samefacilities and the resources too. The students often have access tothe educational facilities in the university regardless of the raceor even their gender too. On the other hand, UMass/Boston has createda tight schedule for each class, and the students are supposed tocomply with it. In most cases, the students might miss the class ifhe or she arrives late. More importantly, the UMass/Boston has metthe qualities of a total institution that Goffman had revealed. Basedon the similarity, it is safe to say that UMass/Boston is a totalinstitution since the students might undertake a number of activitieswithin the University and follow the tight schedule as well.

Waysin which UMass/Boston is different to a Total Institution

The UMass/Boston does notisolate the inmates or give more authority to the guards as the totalinstitution often does. UMass/Boston gives the inmates that are thestudents the right to move freely in the school and engage inactivities that will satisfy their needs and interests too. Theadministration does not provide guidelines that will restrict themovement and the freedom of the students. More importantly, the staffthat includes the professors, the security guards, the cleaners, thecaretakers and the drivers offers activities that are notdiscriminative in nature. The students might even engage inactivities outside the university since they have the permission tomove out. The administration has only provided a list of policies andrules that prioritize the safety and order in the university. Theinmates in Goffman’s experiment showed how they were enclosed intheir specific rooms, and they were expected to comply with each rulethat the guard gave them. Instead, UMass/Boston has presented asociety where the rules are governing the students but, they canengage in activities that they deem right.

In the Goffman’s setting,the staff held the inmates in contempt while the UMass/Boston hasprovided an environment where the professors and the studentsinteract in a peaceful and an orderly manner. In this case, theUMass/Boston is a setting that aims at providing knowledge and skillsthat will nurture responsible citizens. The administration needs toadopt a friendly approach that will provide an environment effectivefor the academic prosperity. In fact, contempt and hate will onlyscare the students, and they will not have enough time to learninstead. The Goffman’s setting showed the impact of captivity andthe obedience of the inmates too. However, the UMass/Boston settingdoes not present any sense of captivity since the students are freeto interact with the professors in engaging in productive academicconversations. The learning activities do not present a dehumanizingexperience like the one that the Goffman’s experiment presented.For instance, the UMass/Boston presents an enlightening experiencesince they acquire vast knowledge and skills from the classes thatthey attend. Even the daily interaction ensures that they meet otherdifferent people and that fosters their experience as responsiblecitizens in the society.


In conclusion, UMass/Boston isa total institution since all the life activities occur in the sameplace but, the friendlier and supportive staffs have shown that itdoes not meet some of the criteria. For instance, the inmates sleep,eat and also read within the enclosure that the school has created.The tight schedule also proves that it works more like a totalinstitution too. However, the professors are friendlier andsupportive unlike the guards in the total institution. A totalinstitution often prohibits people from interacting with the peoplethat are found within the enclosed area. Instead, the same case doesnot apply to the UMass/Boston since the students often interact withthe society and the administration that are the staff will notprohibit the students from doing so. All in all, UMass/Boston has anumber of qualities that match the requirements of a totalinstitution while it also lacks the same features.

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