Cages and Crises: A Marxist Analysis of Mass Incarceration

in Historical Materialism
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Abstract

Since the mid-1960s, the carceral population in the US has increased around 900%. This article analyses that increase from a Marxist framework. After interrogating the theories of Michelle Alexander and Loïc Wacquant, I lay out a theoretical framework for a Marxist theory of mass incarceration. I then offer a historical analysis of mass incarceration in keeping with this theoretical framework, emphasising the carceral system’s relationship to the class struggle and the large-scale economic dislocations of post-Fordism. Finally, I emphasise how private prison companies, increasingly central to the story of mass incarceration, are influencing current efforts to reform the prison system and shift to ‘alternatives to incarceration’.

Cages and Crises: A Marxist Analysis of Mass Incarceration

in Historical Materialism

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