Loic Wacquant - January 28, 2010

January 28, 2010 | 4:00pm-6:00pm | University Room
Loic Wacquant, Professor
University of California, Berkeley
Centre de Sociologie Eurpéenne, Paris

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Punishing the Poor: The Neoliberal Government of Social Insecurity

The punitive turn of penal policy in the United States after 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 “workfare” and expansive “prisonfare” 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. 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 capitalist revolution from above called neoliberalism entails not the advent of “small government” but the building of an overgrown and intrusive penal state deeply injurious to the ideals of democratic citizenship.

Discussants

About the Author

Loic Wacquant is professor of Sociology at the University of California at Berkeley, and a researcher at the Centre de Sociologie Européenne in Paris. A past member of the Society of Fellows at Harvard University (1990-1993) and a MacArthur Foundation Fellow (1997-2002), he is the author of An Invitation to Reflexive Sociology (1992, with Pierre Bourdieu), Urban Outcasts: A Comparative Sociology of Advanced Marginality (2008), and Punishing the Poor (2009).