The will to punish

Didier Fassin, Bruce Western, Rebecca M. McLennan, David W. Garland, Christopher Kutz

    Research output: Book/ReportBook


    Over the past few decades, most societies have become more repressive, their laws more relentless, their magistrates more inflexible, independently of the evolution of crime. In this book, using an approach both genealogical and ethnographic, distinguished anthropologist Didier Fassin addresses the major issues raised by this punitive moment through an inquiry into the very foundations of punishment. What is punishment? Why punish? Who is punished? With these three questions he initiates a critical dialogue with moral philosophy and legal theory on the definition, justification, and distribution of punishment. Going against the triumphing penal populism, this investigation, based on ten years of empirical research on police, justice, and prison systems, proposes a salutary revision of the presuppositions that nourish the passion for punishing and invites readers to rethink the place of punishment in the contemporary world. The theses developed in the volume are discussed by the criminologist David Garland, the historian Rebecca McLennan, and the sociologist Bruce Western, to whom Fassin responds in a short essay, asking, What is a critique of punishment?.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    PublisherOxford University Press
    Number of pages194
    ISBN (Electronic)9780190888589
    StatePublished - Jan 1 2018


    • Critique
    • Ethnography
    • Genealogy
    • Moral economy
    • Punishment

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Arts and Humanities


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