A lively WIP commenced Thursday with Bernard Harcourt presenting his ongoing project (previously seen as one of Chicago's best ideas) on what he calls "neoliberal penality."
The idea behind neoliberal penality is that as the norm against government intervention in the economy has increased, governmental energies have been channeled instead to an ever-increasing carceral sphere. Neoliberalism argues that the market is naturally ordered, and that government intrusion constitutes a distortion that generally should be avoided. By contrast, the penal arena is seen as an appropriate venue for government to flex its muscles. Consequently, the social forces which might press against increased penality are weakened, as crime and punishment are precisely the areas in which government is seen as having the greatest claim to authoritative legitimacy.