Marginality, Ethnicity and Penality in the Neoliberal City. An Analytic Cartography

This article draws an analytic map of the research programme pursued across my three books Urban Outcasts (2008), Punishing the Poor (2009), and Deadly Symbiosis: Race and the Rise of the Penal State (2013). In this trilogy, I disentangle the triangular nexus of class fragmentation, ethnic division, and state-crafting in the polarizing city at century’s turn to explain the political production, sociospatial distribution, and punitive management of marginality through the wedding of disciplinary social policy and neutralizing criminal justice. I signpost how I deployed key notions from Pierre Bourdieu (social space, bureaucratic field, symbolic power) to clarify categories left hazy (such as the ghetto) and to forge new concepts (territorial stigmatization and advanced marginality, punitive containment and liberal paternalism, hyperincarceration and negative sociodicy) as tools for the comparative sociology of the unfinished genesis of the post-industrial precariat, the penal regulation of poverty in the age of diff using social insecurity, and the building of the neo-liberal Leviathan. Bringing the study of the contemporary permutations of class, race and immigration, and the state into a single framework shows how the racialization, penalization, and depoliticization of the urban turbulences associated with advanced marginality reinforce one another in Western Europe as in the United States. It confirms that punishment is not just a key index of social solidarity, as Durkheim proposed, but also a core capacity and key site for staging the sovereignty of the state as classifying and stratifying agency. And it reveals the deep kinship between race and judicial sanction as kindred forms of official dishonour that converge in the constitution of public outcasts.

Released: Replika 87, 33–53.
Ágoston Fáber