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Indeed, one can argue that only because of his increasing alienation and lack of empathy for other people is Raskolnikov able to actually commit the murders.
Others are more concentrated : Randall Mc Gowen, for example, gives a detailed and informative analysis of the growth of the pénal institution in early nineteenth-century England, Connecting it to the rising demand for uniformity in punishment ; Edgardo Rotman's essay offers a clear, cogent discussion of Progressive-era prison reform efforts in the early twentieth- century United States, and the ultimate failure of thèse efforts by the 1960s.
A particularly exceptional essay in this volume is Patricia O'Brien's « The Prison on the Continent : Europe 1865-1965 », which not only manages a detailed overview of this broad topic, but ranges insightfully over issues of gender, social fears of homosexuality, and prison subculture as well.
The essays vary greatly in depth, détail, and the amount of background knowledge they provide.
Edward Peters' opening essay « Prison Before the Prison », for instance, broadly surveys crime, punishment, and détention over two millennia from the chaining of Prometheus to imprisonment within the monastery.
Together, these illustrate a vast and penetrating critical engagement with Hegelian philosophy.
The central contention here is that alienation is vital to the ontological bedrock of Marx’s early viewpoint.This, he charged, tended to reduce Marxism to a positivistic sociology, and in so doing, it internalised and replicated the theoretical logic of capitalism.Unknown to them at the time, there was a greater basis for this in Marx’s writing than they could have imagined.Following the development of Marx’s thought, the essay will discuss the economic production of alienation.Marx’s theory of the overcoming of alienation will then be considered, with reference to the Young Hegelian movement, against which he formulated his views.Although the détention of suspects and criminals stretches back to Antiquity, bodily punishment remained far more the norm until the eighteenth century.From the nineteenth century on, imprisonment gained currency both as rétribution and as a déterrent, even alongside a growing faith that the discipline afforded by incarcération was the surest path to the reformation of criminality.In order to do this, this essay will be divided into four subsections which deal with the concept of alienation as Marx developed it.It will begin with his Hegelian inheritance and will then move to his political critique of Hegel.Most of the essays in both sections are historical ; others are informed as much by sociological inquiry.The final essay in the volume, in a refreshing change of pace, is W. Carnochan's erudite exploration of « confinement » as a literary thème.