Civilizing and Decivilizing Characteristics of the Contemporary Penal Field

  • John Pratt

Abstract

For Norbert Elias, the characteristics of the civilizing process, from the Middle Ages onward, took the form of a strong central state authority; a growing capacity for rational, humanistic thought and the decline of superstition; an increasingly strong sense of mutual identification between constituent groups and individuals; and a raising of the threshold of tolerance and self-restraint. In his magnum opus, The Civilizing Process (1939, 1984), Elias uses illustrations from literature, art, and manners books (with particular reference to eating and personal hygiene arrangements) to illustrate such developments. It was not, though, a normative standard he was developing but, instead, a sociological explanation of long-term social structural, psychological, and cultural development. In these respects, he implies—particularly in his later work, The Germans (1994), for example—that the civilizing process has always been contingent and fragile, and that its outcome remains uncertain. Indeed, the very attributes that we associate with the civilizing process—technological efficiency, bureaucratic rationalism, professionalism, expertise, and so on—are just as capable of bringing about the most profane barbarities, as Zygmund Bauman famously demonstrates in Modernity and the Holocaust (1989).

Keywords

Death Penalty Prison Sentence Royal Commission Private Prison Liberal Establishment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Bauman, Z. 1989. Modernity and the Holocaust. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  2. Bauman, Z. 2001. Liquid Modernity. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  3. Bauman, Z. 2002. Society under Siege. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  4. Beck, U. 1992. Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  5. Blair, T. 2002. “My Vision for Britain.” The Guardian, November 10, 2002. http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2002/nov/10/queensspeech2002.tonyblair (accessed March 17, 2014).
  6. Blinder, S. 2011. UK Public Opinion toward Immigration: Overall Attitudes and Level of Concern. Oxford: The Migration Observatory.Google Scholar
  7. Braithwaite, J. 1989. Crime, Shame and Reintegration. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chesterton, G. 1856. Revelations of Prison Life: With an Enquiry into Prison Discipline and Secondary Punishments. London: Hurst and Blackett.Google Scholar
  9. Collins, P. 1962. Dickens and Crime. London: Macmillan and Co.Google Scholar
  10. Elias, N. (1939) 1984. The Civilizing Process. London: Blackwells.Google Scholar
  11. Elias, N. 1994. The Germans. London: Blackwells.Google Scholar
  12. Eurobarometer 71: National Report, United Kingdom. 2009. London: European Commission.Google Scholar
  13. Fletcher, J. 1997. Violence and Civilization: An Introduction to the Work of Norbert Elias. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  14. Fukuyama, F. 1995. Trust: The Social Virtues and the Creation of Prosperity. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  15. Garland, D. 1990. Punishment and Modern Society: A Study in Social Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Garland, D. 1996. “The Limits of the Sovereign State: Strategies of Crime Control in Contemporary Society.” British Journal of Criminology 36: 445–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Garland, D. 2002. “The Cultural Uses of Capital Punishment.” Punishment and Society 4 (4): 459–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gatrell, V. 1994. The Hanging Tree: Execution and the English People, 1770–1868. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Glover, E. 1956. Probation and Re-education. London: Routledge & Paul.Google Scholar
  20. Hay, D., P. Linebaugh, J. Rule, E. P. Thompson, and C. Winslow. 1975. Albion’s Fatal Tree: Crime and Society in Eighteenth-Century England. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin.Google Scholar
  21. Liebling, A., and B. Crewe. 2012. “Prisons beyond the New Penology: The Shifting Moral Foundations of Prison Management.” In R. Sparks and J. Simon, eds., The Sage Handbook of Punishment and Society, 283–307. New York: Sage.Google Scholar
  22. Lynch, M. 2005. “Supermax Meets Death Row: Legal Struggles around the New Punitiveness in the US.” In J. Pratt, D. Brown, M. Brown, S. Hallsworth, and W. Morrison, eds., The New Punitiveness, 66–84. Cullompton, UK: Willan Publishing.Google Scholar
  23. Markus, A. 2011. Mapping Social Cohesion: The Scanlon Foundation Surveys Summary Report 2011. Caulfield East, Australia: Scanlon Foundation, Monash University.Google Scholar
  24. Mennell, S. 1990. “Decivilizing Processes: Theoretical Significance and Some Lines of Research.” International Sociology 5: 205–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Ministry of Justice. 2002. Reforming the Criminal Justice System. Wellington: Ministry of Justice.Google Scholar
  26. Pratt, J. 2002. Punishment and Civilization: Penal Tolerance and Intolerance in Modern Society. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  27. Pratt, J. 2006. “The Dark Side of Paradise.” British Journal of Criminology 46 (4): 541–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Pratt, J. 2007. Penal Populism. Oxford: Routledge.Google Scholar
  29. Pratt, J., and M. Clark. 2005. “Penal Populism in New Zealand.” Punishment and Society 7: 303–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Radzinowicz, L. 1948. A History of English Criminal Law and Its Administration: The Movement for Reform from 1750–1833. London: Stevens and Sons.Google Scholar
  31. Report of the New York [State] Prison Department. 1891. Albany: New York State Prison Department.Google Scholar
  32. Report of the Commissioners of Prisons. 1922. London: HMSO. Cmd. 1761.Google Scholar
  33. Report of the Gladstone Committee. 1895. London: PP LVII.Google Scholar
  34. Royal Commission on Capital Punishment. 1953. Report of the Royal Commission on Capital Punishment 1949–1953, London: HMSO. Cmd. 8932.Google Scholar
  35. Sarat, A. 2012. “Capital Punishment in the USA: Prospects and Possibilities.” In J. Simon and R. Sparks, eds., The Sage Handbook of Punishment and Society, 308–20. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  36. Sharpe, J. A. 1984. Crime in Early Modern England, 1550–1750. London: Longman.Google Scholar
  37. West, D. J. 1963. The Habitual Prisoner: An Enquiry by the Cambridge Institute of Criminology. London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  38. Young, W. 1979. Community Service Orders: The Development and Use of a New Penal Measure. London: Heinemann Educational Books.Google Scholar
  39. Zimring, F. 1996. “Populism, Democratic Government, and the Decline of Expert Authority.” Pacific Law Journal 28: 243–56.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Tatiana Savoia Landini and François Dépelteau 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Pratt

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations