In our fundamental nature as social creatures, the quest for a sense of belonging within a
community is an innate drive.
Communities are intricate networks defined by shared beliefs and interests and they shape our identities and affiliations. Individuals can belong to multiple communities concurrently (Barbieri & Zani, 2015).
For instance, an individual might find kinship within a sports community and a religious community simultaneously.
These constructs can be divisive and can foster negative emotional, mental, social, and physical health (Matthews-Mthembu & Khan, 2023).
The ramifications of stigma are profound, often pushing individuals identified with specificcommunities towards the margins of society (Mitchell et al., 2021).
Narrowly categorizing an individual based solely on their community membership undermines their distinctive attributes and capacity for change. Motivated by the desire for transformation and enhanced life circumstances, individuals might seek belonging in a different community. Nonetheless, external constraints occasionally heighten the challenge of transitioning or integrating into new social spheres.
Drawing from these personal reflections that are grounded in well-established tenets of Social
Psychology, I embarked on a quantitative exploration of Employer attitudes towards previously
incarcerated persons (PIPs) within the Maltese context.
Employment – which bears the potential to elevate self-assurance, self-efficacy, and a sense of
stability (Modini et al., 2016) – emerges as a pivotal hurdle.
The findings unveiled that the nature of the offence, its frequency, and the PIP’s educational attainment are prominent factors influencing employers' hiring decisions.
The nature of the crime is more important than the frequency of offences.
Encouragingly, post-secondary and vocational education also augment the prospects of securing employment.
Notably, prior to this study, there existed no local quantitative exploration of employer attitudes
toward PIPs. The significance of this inquiry lies in its potential to pave the way for future
research, a venture that I believe can benefit individuals and institutions alike.
While the media is increasingly spotlighting narratives of these individuals, accentuating individuality and the imperative of a holistic approach in understanding and accepting others, the battle against stigma encompassing formerly incarcerated persons is far from won.
Cultivating an environment that fosters supportive attitudes and amplifies a sense of optimism
remains a formidable task. The journey and effort to cultivate relationships with self and others in
society and the aspiration for a chance at an improved life resonates deeply and one must not
underscore the potential transformative power of appropriate resources and support systems.
This is a guest blog post by Kiran Borg, who will be graduating with a Bachelor of Psychology this November. The author of this article currently works in the Mental Health Services sector, provides private tuition in MATSEC O-level and Intermediate level Mathematics and MATSEC Intermediate Level Psychology, and offers Personal Training services.
Barbieri, I., & Zani, B. (2015). Multiple sense of community, identity and wellbeing in a context of multi culture: A mediation model. Community Psychology in Global Perspective, 1(2),40–60. https://doi.org/10.1285/i24212113v1i2p40
Gideon, L., & Sung, H. (2011). Rethinking corrections: rehabilitation, reentry, and reintegration.
Matthews-Mthembu, J. C., & Khan, G. (2023). Implications of social stigma on the health
outcomes of marginalised groups. In Infectious diseases.
Mitchell, U. A., Nishida, A., Fletcher, F. E., & Molina, Y. (2021). The Long Arm of Oppression:
How structural stigma against marginalized communities perpetuates Within-Group health Disparities. Health Education & Behavior, 48(3), 342–351.https://doi.org/10.1177/10901981211011927
Modini, M., Joyce, S., Mykletun, A., Christensen, H., Bryant, R. A., Mitchell, P. B., & Harvey,S. B. (2016). The mental health benefits of employment: Results of a systematic meta-review. Australasian Psychiatry, 24(4), 331–336.https://doi.org/10.1177/1039856215618523
MSEd, K. C. (2023). How to increase your sense of belonging. Verywell Mind.https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-the-need-to-belong-2795393