Imprisonment rates are presumed to have risen in the West, and it is argued by certain social scientists that this can be explained by a comprehensive process of economic neo-liberalization. In this paper, we develop an alternative explanation, focusing on the rise of a 'new political culture'. Longitudinal cross-national analyses are performed to test the tenability of these theories. First, it is demonstrated that some countries have been witnessing a trend of penalization, but that there is no overall trend. Second, economic explanations for variations in imprisonment rates prove to be untenable. Third, it is shown that a new-rightist demand for social order, which is not found to be inspired by economic neo-liberalization, provides a better explanation. This leads to the conclusion that high incarceration rates can be understood as being part of a right-authoritarian politico-cultural complex.

Additional Metadata
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjc/azn057, hdl.handle.net/1765/14416
Series Centre for Rotterdam Cultural Sociology (CROCUS)
Journal The British Journal of Criminology: an international review of crime and society
Citation
de Koster, W, van der Waal, J, Achterberg, P.H.J, & Houtman, D. (2008). The rise of the penal state: Neo-liberalization or new political culture?. The British Journal of Criminology: an international review of crime and society, 48(6), 720–734. doi:10.1093/bjc/azn057