This book examines the intersection between incarceration and human rights. It is about why independent inspection of places of custody is a necessary part of human rights protection, and how that independence is manifested and preserved in practice. Immigration and asylum policies ask crucial questions about national identity, about human rights, and about our values as compassionate citizens in an era of increasingly complex international challenges. The book deals with the future of prisons and shows how the vulnerable population has been unconscionably treated. To arrive at a proper diagnosis of the expansive use and abuse of the prison in the age of economic deregulation and social insecurity, it is imperative that we effect some analytic breaks with the gamut of established approaches to incarceration. The book explores the new realities of criminal confinement of persons with mental illness. It traces the efforts of New Right think-tanks, police chiefs and other policy entrepreneurs to export neoliberal penality to Europe, with England and Wales acting as an 'acclimatization chamber'. In a series of interventions, of which his Oxford Amnesty Lecture is but one, Loic Wacquant has in recent years developed an incisive and invaluable analysis of the rise and effects of what he calls the penal state.
, not in all of them – the turn towards
penal conﬁnement is also apparent and inmate numbers swell. The prison today
looms large in the political and social imagination.
In a series of interventions, of which his Oxford Amnesty Lecture is but one,
Loïc Wacquant has in recent years developed an incisive and invaluable analysis of
the rise and effects of what he calls the penalstate.2 If he and it did not exist, it
would be necessary to invent them. There is much in the contemporary economic,
social and penal condition that properly calls for the kind of analysis he
-evident commonplaces of the pensée unique
about ‘insecurity’ that now rules uncontested is irrevocably (dis)qualiﬁed as a
vain dreamer or an ideologue guilty of ignoring the harsh realities of contemporary
The generalisation of social insecurity and its effects
The sudden growth and gloriﬁcation of the penalstate in the United States,
starting in the mid-1970s, and then in Western Europe two decades later, does not
correspond to a rupture in the evolution of crime and delinquency – the scale and
physiognomy of offending did not change abruptly at the start of the two
Given the significant similarities and differences between the welfare states of Northern Europe and their reactions to the perceived 'refugee crisis' of 2015, the book focuses primarily on the three main cases of Denmark, Sweden and Germany. Placed in a wider Northern European context – and illustrated by those chapters that also discuss refugee experiences in Norway and the UK – the Danish, Swedish and German cases are the largest case studies of this edited volume. Thus, the book contributes to debates on the governance of non-citizens and the meaning of displacement, mobility and seeking asylum by providing interdisciplinary analyses of a largely overlooked region of the world, with two specific aims. First, we scrutinize the construction of the 2015 crisis as a response to the large influx of refugees, paying particular attention to the disciplinary discourses and bureaucratic structures that are associated with it. Second, we investigate refugees’ encounters with these bureaucratic structures and consider how these encounters shape hopes for building a new life after displacement. This allows us to show that the mobility of specific segments of the world’s population continues to be seen as a threat and a risk that has to be governed and controlled. Focusing on the Northern European context, our volume interrogates emerging policies and discourses as well as the lived experiences of bureaucratization from the perspective of individuals who find themselves the very objects of bureaucracies.
Recently, a number of French sociologists have provided a refreshing and
sharp critique of neoliberal politics in terms of political economy. Perhaps
the most famous is Loïc Wacquant’s critical analysis of the neoliberal state
(Wacquant, 2009, 2010). Taking his point of departure in the tendency of
going tough on crime in many OECD countries since the 1990s, Wacquant
argues that neoliberalism is not only about market rule but also about
supervisory workfare, a proactive penalstate and the generalised elevation of an ethos of individual responsibility (for
, 9(1): 66–77.
Wacquant, L. (2008) ‘Ordering insecurity: social polarization and the punitive upsurge’, Radical Philosophy Review , 11(1): 9–27.
Wacquant, L. (2009a) Punishing the Poor: The Neoliberal Government of Social Insecurity , Durham, NC, and London: Duke University Press.
Wacquant, L. (2009b) ‘The body, the ghetto and the penalState’, Qualitative Sociology , 32(1): 101–29.
Whelan, K. (2004) ‘The Revisionist debate in Ireland’, Boundary 2 , 31(1): 179–206.
Wilson, J. Q., and Kelling, G. (1982) ‘The police and
others (a healing that is never complete, but always only
provisional and part of an infinite process). Our first reaction
when wounded might be to seek revenge. But the time of
critical reflection and interpretation of our own stake in
violence can be just enough time to stop that deadly reflex.
To rethink politics as beyond recognition, we must
consider the psychic forces that operate behind the scene.
As Hage argues, with the move from a welfare state to a
penalstate, we no longer value social explanations – and I
would add psychological explanations – for
inscribed into national law.
Refugees and the violence of welfare bureaucracies
Aas, K. F. (2013). ‘The Ordered and the Bordered Society: Migration Control, Citizenship, and the Northern PenalState’, in Aas, K. J. and Bosworth, M. (eds.) The
Borders of Punishment: Migration, Citizenship, and Social Exclusion. Oxford,
New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 21–39.
Barker, V. (2013). ‘Nordic Exceptionalism Revisited: Explaining the Paradox of a
Janus-Faced Penal Regime’, Theoretical Criminology 17(1), pp. 5–25.
Barker, V. (2017). ‘Penal Power at the Border
key elements of its plot and characterisation. The poem’s central female character steps off a train, rather than enduring a shipwreck; the position of her benefactor as an escaped convict in a penalstate is merely implied rather than directly stated; and both the woman’s promise to intercede with the authorities upon his behalf and her subsequent betrayal of this pledge – one of the most troubling aspects of the original story – are eclipsed from the narrative. Meanwhile the historical identity of the two principals, along with the psychological motivations and
Surveillance and transgender bodies in a post-9/ 11 era of neoliberalism
and resources away from the poor and to the elite.
This is not only an abstract system but also an ideology on how to
govern and administrate. As Chandra Mohanty ( 2013 : 970) writes, neoliberalism is marked ‘by market-based
governance practices on the one hand (the privatisation,
commodification, and proliferation of difference) and authoritarian,
national security-driven penalstate practices on the other’. It