Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Criminalisation and advanced marginality

Criminalisation and advanced marginality: Critically exploring the work of Loïc Wacquant

Peter Squires
John Lea
Copyright Date: 2012
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Criminalisation and advanced marginality
    Book Description:

    This book represents the first full-length critical and interdisciplinary assessment of Loïc Wacquant's work in English. Wacquant's challenging critique of the neo-liberal government of crime and the punitive culture to which this is related has shaken criminology to its foundations. In a bold political analysis he describes how the US-led revolution in law and order has dismantled the welfare state, replacing it with a disciplinary and penal state. Wacquant's analysis also details the spread of neo-liberal crime control measures and the underpinning 'pornographic' discourses of crime across the developed world, although critics have questioned the extent to which this model of criminal justice really is gaining the worldwide dominance alleged. Written by criminologists and policy analysts, Criminalisation and advanced marginality offers a constructive but critical application of Wacquant's ideas. The contributors welcome the opportunity presented by Wacquant's work to re-engage with a radical politics of law and order, criminalisation and marginality, whilst raising issues of gender, resistance, conflict and history which, they argue, help to enrich and further develop Wacquant's analyses. The book concludes with a chapter from Professor Wacquant himself responding to the commentaries upon his work. It fills an important gap in the existing literature and will be exciting reading for academics and students of criminology, social policy and the social sciences more broadly.

    eISBN: 978-1-4473-0002-1
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. v-v)
  4. Notes on contributors
    (pp. vi-viii)
  5. ONE Introduction: reading Loïc Wacquant – opening questions and overview
    (pp. 1-16)
    Peter Squires and John Lea

    Most of the chapters in this collection originated from a conference on the recent work of Loïc Wacquant organised by the University of Brighton Criminology Group in September 2010. The decision to hold this conference arose from a reading of his recent book,Punishing the poor(Wacquant, 2009a), which, together with his earlierUrban outcasts(Wacquant, 2007), provide one of the most systematic and detailed accounts available in sociology of the impact of neoliberalism on the welfare state and the penal system in the US and Western Europe.

    By now it is absolutely clear that earlier characterisations of neoliberalism as...

  6. Section 1: Theory and politics

    • TWO Bringing the state back in: understanding neoliberal security
      (pp. 19-40)
      John Lea and Simon Hallsworth

      By now the broad contours of the ‘great transformation’ through which we are living are reasonably clear. The combined forces of economy and state are rewriting the scripts governing social structure, class relations and politics in the advanced industrial countries of the global north. In particular the interventionist state is an essential part of the engine of transformation today as it was in the coming of industrial capitalism itself. The ‘great transformation’ of the early 19th century was one in which free market capitalism, the regime of‘laisser-faireitself was enforced by ... an enormous increase in the administrative functions...

    • THREE The state, sovereignty and advanced marginality in the city
      (pp. 41-60)
      Kevin Stenson

      This chapter sketches Loïc Wacquant’s key arguments about the neoliberal state project and advanced marginality with particular reference to the impact of these processes on racial and minority ethnic groups and the neighbourhoods in which they are concentrated in advanced societies. It notes criticisms of this position, and while acknowledging strengths in Wacquant’s attempts to bring together materialist Marxist and cultural, neo-Durkheimian perspectives, it is argued that in practice there is an over-reliance on materialist assumptions that depict social actors primarily as economic actors in the last instance. The chapter provides an alternative perspective, developed by this author in a...

    • FOUR The third time as farce: whatever happened to the penal state?
      (pp. 61-84)
      John Pitts

      In a recent lecture, Loïc Wacquant (2009) argued that the criminal justice and social policies of neoliberal states have, together, spawned what he describes as ‘the third age of the great confinement’. In the process, Wacquant contends, the ‘economic state’ and the ‘social state’ are supplanted by the ‘penal state’ and, more contentiously, that a ‘carceral catastrophe’ is already upon ‘us’. In an earlier paper on the same theme, he wrote (2001):

      This new “government” of social insecurity – to speak like Michel Foucault – rests on the discipline of the deskilled and deregulated labour market and on an intrusive and omnipresent...

  7. Section 2: Welfare, agency and resistance

    • FIVE Loïc Wacquant and Norbert Elias: advanced marginality and the theory of the de-civilising process
      (pp. 87-106)
      John J. Rodger

      Loïc Wacquant shares with Norbert Elias and Pierre Bourdieu an interest in the mechanisms through which political, socioeconomic and cultural change leads to the transformation of humanhabitusin the modern world. There are few existing social analysts who have done more than Wacquant to place the neglect and deprivation of life in the urban periphery on the policy and research agendas of the social sciences. In drawing attention to the violence and de-pacification of the ‘hyper-ghetto’ in the US, and the ‘degraded ecology’ of thebanlieuesand marginal communities of Western Europe, the research agenda that is wrapped up...

    • SIX Beyond the penal state: advanced marginality, social policy and anti-welfarism
      (pp. 107-128)
      Lynn Hancock and Gerry Mooney

      Loïc Wacquant’s extraordinarily extensive writing over recent years has sparked widespread commentary across a range of academic disciplines but notably, for our purposes, in criminology, social policy and urban studies. Many of those commentating onUrban outcasts(2008),Punishing the poor(2009a) andPrisons of poverty(2009b) in the UK and Europe express support for Wacquant’s overall analysis and the contributions his insights make to the way we assess and conceptualise neoliberal state-craft, penality, the restructuring of welfare and its implications. In this vein, writers have sought to extend, modify and qualify Wacquant’s analysis in the light of empirical observations...

    • SEVEN Loïc Wacquant, gender and cultures of resistance
      (pp. 129-150)
      Lynda Measor

      Loïc Wacquant focuses on sections of the urban proletariat who are ‘the most marginalised’ in the post-industrial world. He denounces, with Old Testament fury, contemporary neoliberal policies that assign men and women, respectively, to the carceral and assistantial wings of the state. Wacquant considers some very crucial and important issues, and while this chapter offers some criticism, it aims mainly to buttress the insights developed by the approach he takes. Wacquant offers relatively little detail about the pains of the daily lives of the ‘precariat’.

      The central concern in this chapter is that he gives scant consideration to evidence of...

    • EIGHT Women, welfare and the carceral state
      (pp. 151-170)
      Denise Martin and Paula Wilcox

      Loïc Wacquant, in his recent series of publications, has outlined an impressive thesis to explain penal expansionism in the US (Wacquant, 2009a) and the adoption of these policies elsewhere in Europe (Wacquant, 2009b). His account of a seemingly more punitive state is linked to the neoliberal programme of welfare retreatism and inextricably linked to penal regulation. InPunishing the poor, Wacquant is persuasive in his argument, providing extensive evidence to support his contentions. In particular, he draws our attention to the precariousness of poor women and the extent to which they are disciplined and controlled by the state through an...

  8. Section 3: Urbanisation, criminality and penality

    • NINE Illicit economies and the carceral social zone
      (pp. 173-194)
      Vincenzo Ruggiero

      There are several interconnected issues raised by Loïc Wacquant’s work which reflect not only general sociological and criminological concerns, but also pertain to specific areas of debate, including the function of imprisonment, the notion of illicit markets, the interpretation of violence, the concept of collective action and the new ways of superseding neoliberal philosophies.

      In an analysis of the continuity between the prison and the ghetto, Wacquant (2001) argues that both host a surplus population, the human waste discarded by the productive system and ignored by the welfare state. The growth of these two receptacles of marginality, he remarks, is...

    • TEN The universal and the particular in Latin American penal state formation
      (pp. 195-216)
      Markus-Michael Müller

      This is taken from the autobiographic account of Thomas McFadden, a British national who spent nearly five years in the San Pedro Prison in La Paz, Bolivia, for drug smuggling. With the help of another inmate, McFadden was able to set up a contract to purchase a prison cell from a Bolivian prisoner and to take over the cell for US$1,200, an amount that also included the former owner’s television, refrigerator and some of the furniture he had brought into the prison (Young and McFadden, 2004, pp 107–8).

      In a paradigmatic way, this episode illustrates one of many aspects...

    • ELEVEN Neoliberal, brutish and short? Cities, inequalities and violences
      (pp. 217-240)
      Peter Squires

      The aim of this chapter is to critically reflect on the analytical themes and issues reflected in two of Loïc Wacquant’s major works (Urban outcasts, 2008a, andPunishing the poor, 2009). Despite the essential similarities of their respective subject matters, the books are quite different in content, style, tone and methodological orientation. The former, by far the most conventionally research-led, explores, on the basis of survey data and area-based indicators, comparisons and contrasts between life and living conditions in the deteriorating ghettos of Chicago’s South Side and conditions in thebanlieueestates on the outskirts of Paris. Differences of scale,...

  9. Response

    • TWELVE The wedding of workfare and prisonfare in the 21st century: responses to critics and commentators
      (pp. 243-258)
      Loïc Wacquant

      In this chapter, I explain how and why ‘the prison’ has returned to the institutional forefront of advanced societies, when four decades ago analysts of the penal scene were convinced it was on the decline, if not on the path towards extinction. I draw on my bookPunishing the poor(Wacquant, 2009a, p 315) to argue that the expansion and glorification of the police, the courts and the penitentiary are a response not to crime trends but to the diffusion of social insecurities; that we need to reconnect social and penal policies and treat them as two variants of poverty...

  10. Index
    (pp. 259-272)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 273-273)