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The Oxford Handbook of Criminology

The Oxford Handbook of Criminology (7th edn)

Alison Liebling, Shadd Maruna, and Lesley McAra
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date: 13 April 2024

p. 77135. The punishment-welfare relationship: history, sociology, and politicslocked

p. 77135. The punishment-welfare relationship: history, sociology, and politicslocked

  • David Garland

Abstract

The relationship between ‘punishment’ and ‘welfare’ is by now a well-established topic of theory and research in historical, sociological, and comparative studies of punishment. In recent years that relationship—and in particular the balance between penal and welfare approaches—has also become a focal point for social movements working to transform criminal justice, and more generally for activists seeking to shift power and resources away from police and prisons towards social service and public health approaches to crime control. This chapter discusses the punishment-welfare relationship as a matter of history, sociology, and comparative social policy, summarizing what we know, identifying promising lines of research, and commenting on key areas of contention. As a theoretical matter, it is argued that future research ought to view penal and welfare policies in relation to the underlying social problems these policies purportedly address and also in relation to the larger social and economic structures that shape these social problems and the policies that deal with them. By way of political commentary, some considerations are noted that should be borne in mind by activists pressing for a wholesale shift from penal to welfare modes of crime-control.

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