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The will to punish - Didier Fassin

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The will to punish
Didier Fassin
Oxford University Press
UK Publication Date

Over the last few decades, most societies have become more repressive, their laws more relentless, their magistrates more inflexible, independently of the evolution of crime. In The Will to Punish, 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?Through these three questions, he initiates a critical dialogue with moral philosophy and legal theory on the definition, the justification and the distribution of punishment. Discussing various historical and national contexts, mobilizing a ten-year research program on police, justice and prison, and takingup the legacy of Friedrich Nietzsche and Michel Foucault, he shows that the link between crime and punishment is an historical artifact, that the response to crime has not always been the infliction of pain, that punishment does not only proceed from rational logics used to legitimize it, that more severity in sentencing often means increasing social inequality before the law, and that the question, "What should be punished?" always comes down to the questions "Whom do we deem punishable?" and"Whom do we want to be spared?" Going against a triumphant penal populism, this investigation proposes a salutary revision of the presuppositions that nourish the passion for punishing and invites to rethink the place of punishment in the contemporary world.The theses developed in the volume are discussed by criminologist David Garland, historian Rebecca McLennan, and sociologist Bruce Western, to whom Didier Fassin responds in a short essay.

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Didier Fassin is James Wolfensohn Professor of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study and a Director of Studies at the cole des Hautes tudes en Sciences Sociales. An anthropologist, sociologist and physician, he has conducted ethnographic research in Senegal, South Africa, Ecuador, and France. Former vice-president of Mdecins Sans Frontires, he is currently President of the French Medical Committee for Exiles. The
author of 15 books and the editor of 21 volumes, he has published more than 200 scientific articles. Laureate of an Advanced Grant from the European Research Council, he received the Gold Medal
awarded every 3 years to an anthropologist at the Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences.


R. D. McCrie, CHOICE

...the Lectures... could be said to provide something of a state of the art summation of the general lines of critical thought, raising questions about critical method, what has been achieved, and what else there is still to do.

Alan Norrie, Warwick Law School, Coventry, Criminal Law and Philosophy

Keyword Index
Punishment - Philosophy.|Punishment (Psychology)|Prisons - Moral and ethical aspects.
Country of Publication
New York (State)
Number of Pages
x, 194

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