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Other titles in the Politics, History, and Culture series:
Punishing the Poor: The Neoliberal Government of Social Insecurity (Politics, History, and Culture)by Loic Wacquant
Synopses & Reviews
The punitive turn taken by penal policies in advanced societies over the past
two decades does not pertain to the traditional duo of crime and punishment.
Rather, it heralds the establishment of a new government of social insecurity
aimed at molding the conduct of the men and women caught in the turbulence
of economic deregulation and the conversion of welfare into a springboard
toward precarious employment. Within this liberal-paternalist apparatus, the
prison has recovered its original mission: to tame the populations and the
territories rebellious to the emerging economic and moral order, and to ritually
reassert the fortitude of the rulers.
It is in the United States that this new politics and policy of marginality
wedding restrictive workfare and expansive prisonfare was invented, in
the wake of the social and racial reaction of the 1970s that was the crucible of
the neoliberal revolution. Punishing the Poor takes the reader inside America's
prison to probe the entrails of the bulimic carceral state that has risen on the
ruins of the charitable state and the black ghetto. It demonstrates how, in the
era of fragmented labor, the regulation of the lower classes no longer involves
solely the maternal arm of the social-welfare state, but crucially implicates the
stern and virile arm of the penal state. And it explains why the battle against
crime is both a reaction to, and a diversion from, the new social question:
namely, the generalization of insecure work and its impact on the life spaces
and strategies of the urban proletariat.
By uncovering the material underpinnings and unhinging the symbolic springs
of the law-and-order reason that is now sweeping through the countries of the
First and Second worlds, this bold book linking social and penal policies makes
an original contribution to the historical anthropology of the state in the age of
Visit the author's website.
Written by one of the most influential young sociologists today, this book documents and explores the meaning of the enormous increase in the U.S. prison population during the country's post-1970 neoliberal period.
A sociologist explains how over the past two decades neoliberal societies have sought to control the poor through a combination of penal sanction and welfare supervision.
The punitive turn of penal policy in the United States after the acme of the Civil Rights movement responds not to rising criminal insecurity but to the social insecurity spawned by the fragmentation of wage labor and the shakeup of the ethnoracial hierarchy. It partakes of a broader reconstruction of the state wedding restrictive andldquo;workfareandrdquo; and expansive andldquo;prisonfareandrdquo; under a philosophy of moral behaviorism. This paternalist program of penalization of poverty aims to curb the urban disorders wrought by economic deregulation and to impose precarious employment on the postindustrial proletariat. It also erects a garish theater of civic morality on whose stage political elites can orchestrate the public vituperation of deviant figuresandmdash;the teenage andldquo;welfare mother,andrdquo; the ghetto andldquo;street thug,andrdquo; and the roaming andldquo;sex predatorandrdquo;andmdash;and close the legitimacy deficit they suffer when they discard the established government mission of social and economic protection. By bringing developments in welfare and criminal justice into a single analytic framework attentive to both the instrumental and communicative moments of public policy, Punishing the Poor shows that the prison is not a mere technical implement for law enforcement but a core political institution. And it reveals that the capitalist revolution from above called neoliberalism entails not the advent of andldquo;small governmentandrdquo; but the building of an overgrown and intrusive penal state deeply injurious to the ideals of democratic citizenship.
Visit the authorandrsquo;s website.
About the Author
“Punishing the Poor is an incisive and unflinching indictment of neoliberal state restructuring and poverty (mis)management. It brilliantly exposes structural and symbolic consonances between ‘workfare’ and ‘prisonfare,’ and between emergent, transnational policy orthodoxies in social and penal policy. Loïc Wacquant delivers a trenchant, radical, and entirely compelling analysis.”—Jamie Peck, author of Workfare States
“This masterful treatment of contemporary punishment policies relocates the entire field within the political sweep of the twentieth-century ascendance of economic neoliberalism and the evisceration of the welfare state. Loïc Wacquant skillfully weds materialist and symbolic approaches in the best tradition of Marx and radical criminology, on the one hand, and Durkheim and Bourdieu, on the other. This provocative book is the counter-manifesto to neoliberal penality, a must-read for all students of criminal justice and citizenship.”—Bernard E. Harcourt, author of Against Prediction: Profiling, Policing, and Punishing in an Actuarial Age
“This powerful book shows that America’s harsh penal policies are of a piece with our harsh social policies and that both can be understood as a symbolic and material apparatus to control the marginal populations created by neoliberal globalization. A tour de force!”—Frances Fox Piven, co-author of Regulating the Poor: The Functions of Public Welfare
Table of Contents
Tables and Figures ix
Prologue: America as Living Laboratory for the Neoliberal Future xi
1. Social Insecurity and the Punitive Upsurge 1
Part I: Poverty of the Social State
2. The Criminalization of Poverty in the Post-Civil Rights Era 41
3. Welfare andquot;Reformandquot; as Poor Discipline and Statecraft 76
Part II: Grandeur of the Penal State
4. The Great Confinement of the Fin de Siandegrave;cle 113
5. The Coming of Carceral andquot;Big Governmentandquot; 151
6. The Prison as Surrogate Ghetto: Encaging the Black Subproletarians 195
7. Moralism and Punitive Panopticism: Hunting Down Sex Offenders 209
Part IV: European Declinations
8. The Scholarly Myths of the New Law-and-Order Reason 243
9. Carceral Aberration Comes to French 270
Theoretical Coda: A Sketch of the Neoliberal State 287
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History and Social Science » American Studies » Poverty