Marginality and Penalization

Lecture, Open—Fall

Marginalization is a characteristic trait of cities in the first world, and penalization has been responsive to new forms of urban development since the 1980s. Marginality refers to the exclusion of certain populations from a social mainstream because of cultural differences (race, ethnicity, religion), social roles (women, elderly, adolescents), and/or their location in the social structure (political, economic, social powerlessness). By definition, penalization subjects a person or entity to legal sanctions and punishment and/or imposes an unfair disadvantage. This lecture examines these topics in urban areas of, particularly, the United States and Europe via the texts and critics of one their most prominent sociologists: Loïc Wacquant. Wacquant’s recent work on marginality and penalization presents new, debatable arguments. The course looks closely at these works and special journal issues compiled in response to them. We will introduce the problems—racial and cultural encapsulation, migration and immigration, education, health care, jobs, housing, globalization, poverty—and scrutinize the debates, e.g., the role of the state, differences in the way marginality is constructed, its impact on social mobility, new penal policies and their connection to urban renewal, the decline of the social welfare state, punishing the poor, the outsourcing of work, and forms of resistance.