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Bourdieu, the State, and Neoliberalism

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Abstract:

In Punishing the Poor, I show that the ascent of the penal state in the United States and other advanced
societies over the past quarter-century is a response to rising social insecurity, not criminal insecurity;
that changes in welfare and justice policies are interlinked, as restrictive „workfare‟ and expansive
„prisonfare‟ are coupled into a single organizational contraption to discipline the precarious fractions of
the postindustrial working class; and that a diligent carceral system is not a deviation from, but a
constituent component of, the neoliberal Leviathan. In this article, I draw out the theoretical implications
of this diagnosis of the emerging government of social insecurity. I deploy Pierre Bourdieu‟s concept of
„bureaucratic field‟ to revise Piven and Cloward‟s classic thesis on the regulation of poverty via public
assistance, and contrast the model of penalization as technique for the management of marginality in the
dual metropolis to Michel Foucault‟s vision of the „disciplinary society‟, David Garland‟s account of the
„culture of control‟ and David Harvey‟s characterization of neoliberal politics. Against the thin economic
conception of neoliberalism as market rule that echoes its ideology, I propose a thick sociological
specification entailing supervisory workfare, a proactive penal state and the cultural trope of „individual
responsibility‟. This suggests that we need to theorize the prison, not as a technical implement for law
enforcement, but as a core political capacity whose selective and aggressive deployment in the lower
regions of social space is constitutively injurious to the ideals of democratic citizenship.
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Association:
Name: Seventeenth International Conference of the Council for European Studies
URL:
http://www.ces.columbia.edu


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p401627_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Wacquant, Loïc. "Bourdieu, the State, and Neoliberalism" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Seventeenth International Conference of the Council for European Studies, Grand Plaza, Montreal, Canada, <Not Available>. 2014-11-27 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p401627_index.html>

APA Citation:

Wacquant, L. "Bourdieu, the State, and Neoliberalism" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Seventeenth International Conference of the Council for European Studies, Grand Plaza, Montreal, Canada <Not Available>. 2014-11-27 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p401627_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Abstract: In Punishing the Poor, I show that the ascent of the penal state in the United States and other advanced
societies over the past quarter-century is a response to rising social insecurity, not criminal insecurity;
that changes in welfare and justice policies are interlinked, as restrictive „workfare‟ and expansive
„prisonfare‟ are coupled into a single organizational contraption to discipline the precarious fractions of
the postindustrial working class; and that a diligent carceral system is not a deviation from, but a
constituent component of, the neoliberal Leviathan. In this article, I draw out the theoretical implications
of this diagnosis of the emerging government of social insecurity. I deploy Pierre Bourdieu‟s concept of
„bureaucratic field‟ to revise Piven and Cloward‟s classic thesis on the regulation of poverty via public
assistance, and contrast the model of penalization as technique for the management of marginality in the
dual metropolis to Michel Foucault‟s vision of the „disciplinary society‟, David Garland‟s account of the
„culture of control‟ and David Harvey‟s characterization of neoliberal politics. Against the thin economic
conception of neoliberalism as market rule that echoes its ideology, I propose a thick sociological
specification entailing supervisory workfare, a proactive penal state and the cultural trope of „individual
responsibility‟. This suggests that we need to theorize the prison, not as a technical implement for law
enforcement, but as a core political capacity whose selective and aggressive deployment in the lower
regions of social space is constitutively injurious to the ideals of democratic citizenship.


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