Book Chapter

Rethinking Punitive Paternalism: Abolitionism, the personal and political



Malloch M (2020) Rethinking Punitive Paternalism: Abolitionism, the personal and political. In: Coyle MJ & Scott D (eds.) The Routledge International Handbook of Penal Abolition. London: Routledge.

The utopian impulse that beats within abolitionism requires the (re)imagining and (re)building of a just world. A shift away from punishment necessitates the transformation of existing social relationships. For many feminists and queer activists however, the failure of existing societies to respond adequately or appropriately to gender and sex-based violence has remained a thorny issue in social movements for abolitionism. Recent attention to gendered and sexual violence has seen activist movements challenge male power and privilege. However, this is often focused on calls to augment policing and punishment, resulting in moves towards an increasingly carceral state. Support for hate crime legislation, calls for more police in less prosperous neighbourhoods, and participation in police recruitment campaigns has seen organisations that formerly campaigned against criminalisation trends now actively supporting the expansion of state punishment and control. Feminist movements, which were previously organised around grassroot and social welfare solutions, have increasingly turned towards criminal justice systems in pursuit of political goals. In a similar vein, feminist anti-trafficking activists have embraced a pro-familial strategy that is interwoven with neoliberal commitments to criminalization and the masculinizing state. This chapter will explore why feminist and queer rights’ discourse has been marked by a striking shift away from previous critiques of the carceral state towards a growing desire for punitive politics. Crucially, it will ask what a cohesive movement towards decriminalisation, depenalisation and destigmatisation, might look like.

Publication date31/12/2020
Publication date online31/03/2021
Publisher URL…ok/9781138354098
Place of publicationLondon

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Professor Margaret Malloch

Professor Margaret Malloch

Professor, Sociology, Social Policy & Criminology