Friday, December 11, 2009

O'Malley on Bentham

Pat O’Malley, University of Sydney Faculty of Law, has posted Jeremy Bentham, an entry in Fifty Key Thinkers in Criminology, ed. Keith Hayward, Shadd Maruna, Jayne Mooney , ed. S. Maruna, J. Mooney & K. Hayward (Routledge, 2009). Here’s the abstract:
Jeremy Bentham is associated in criminology with his invention of the 'Panopticon.' In many ways this appeared as the quintessential disciplinary institution, training subjects to be 'docile' and obedient. Yet Bentham's classical criminology also stressed that actors are rational choice optimisers, and are to be seen as inventive and enterprising rather than servile and mindless. In part, the overemphasis on the Panopticon leads modern criminologists ignore this side of his thinking and to see Bentham as narrowly punitive and disciplinary. But in his later years he turned toward 'pecuniary sanctions', fines and damages, that he regarded as the optimal liberal sanction. Bentham outlined many of the advantages of monetary justice, and advocated their use in relation to almost every crime, in place of the more usual punishments. This chapter suggests a need to reconsider the contribution of Bentham to criminology and penology in terms of such later works and ideas rather than his advocacy of the Panopticon alone.
Image credit

Routledge writes that the work in which the essay appears, Fifty Key Thinkers in Criminology, "brings the history of criminological thought alive through a collection of fascinating life stories. The book covers a range of historical and contemporary thinkers from around the world, offering a stimulating combination of biographical fact with historical and cultural context. A rich mix of life-and-times detail and theoretical reflection is designed to generate further discussion on some of the key contributions that have shaped the field of criminology." Its essays take up Cesare Beccaria; Howard Becker; Jeremy Bentham; Willem Bonger; John Braithwaite; Susan Brownmiller; Pat Carlen; Bill Chambliss; Meda Chesney-Lind; Nils Christie; Ron Clarke; Albert Cohen; Stan Cohen; Richard Cloward; Donald Cressey; Elliott Currie; W. E. B. DuBois; Emile Durkheim; David Farrington; Enrico Ferri; Michel Foucault; David Garland; Erving Goffman; Eleanor Glueck/the Gluecks; Stuart Hall; Frances Heidensohn; Travis Hirschi; Louk Hulsman; John Irwin; Peter Kropotkin; Ed Lemert; Cesare Lombroso; Joan McCord; Karl Marx; Thomas Mathiesen; David Matza; Robert Merton; Walter Miller; Rosa del Olmo; Robert Park; Adolphe de Quetelet; Robert Sampson; The Schwendingers; Thorstein Sellin; Clifford Shaw; Carol Smart; Edwin Sutherland; Gresham Sykes; James Q Wilson; Jock Young.