Punishment and 'the People' : Rescuing Populism from its Critics

Hogg, Russell (2013) Punishment and 'the People' : Rescuing Populism from its Critics. In Carrington, Kerry, Ball, Matthew, O'Brien, Erin, & Tauri, Juan (Eds.) Crime, Justice and Social Democracy : International Perspectives. Palgrave MacMillan, United Kingdom, pp. 105-119.

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The term 'penal populism' is now reflexively used by criminologists to describe what many see as a dominant trend within penal policymaking in many western countries. The epithet 'populist' is used with no Jess frequency by media and other public commentators to refer (always pejoratively) to this or that political announcement, policy or style of political leadership, whether the context be specifically related to crime or some other arena of public affairs. In most accounts 'penal populism' (or 'populist punitiveness': Bottoms, 1995) is treated as a composite term. The two words are inseparably coupled and it is the penal that receives most of the detailed attention. As in more general political commentary, populism is tacitly understood as a negative and rather dangerous phenomenon, suggestive of manipulation, shallow-ness and demagoguery: in short, a corruption of normal, healthy democratic politics. As against such accounts, I want to suggest that debate about penal policymaking and its future -and particularly the prospects for more progressive policymaking in the area -would be assisted if populism was taken more seriously both conceptually and politically. This requires a decoupling of the concept of populism from what is habitually taken to be its punitive partner and that which defines its content. Currently the term is used without clear definition, let alone conceptual elaboration, to reference political pathology. Instead populism should be examined as a regular, meaningful dimension of contemporary political practice that has to be understood and engaged, not just denounced and extirpated. That is, I am seeking to make a case for bringing populism in from the despised margins to the centre of political practice and reflection. I will also briefly consider some of the implications this may have for penal politics specifically.

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ID Code: 65166
Item Type: Book Chapter
Keywords: penal populism, penal politics, policymaking
ISBN: 9781137008688
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > CRIMINOLOGY (160200)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > SOCIOLOGY (160800) > Social Theory (160806)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Crime & Justice Research Centre
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Current > Schools > School of Justice
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2013 Please consult the author
Deposited On: 16 Dec 2013 23:46
Last Modified: 21 Nov 2015 14:46

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