Incarceration as a Political Institution

Sarah Shannon, Christopher Uggen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

4 Scopus citations


The prison is a significant social and political institution that is not only shaped by cultural and political forces, but in turn shapes the political and social lives of those who have been imprisoned. In this chapter, we discuss the theoretical backdrop for imprisonment as a political and cultural force worldwide. In doing so, we consider variation in imprisonment rates over space and time, selection into prison and the effects of incarceration on human and social capital. We conclude with an examination of the particular case of the United States to illustrate the social and political consequences of imprisonment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Political Sociology
PublisherJohn Wiley and Sons
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)9781444330939
StatePublished - Jul 20 2012


  • Broader social trends, influencing modern incarceration
  • Consequences of incarceration
  • Imprisonment and local political contexts in the US
  • Imprisonment, severe penalty at the state's disposal
  • Incarceration in comparative perspective
  • Incarceration, as a political institution
  • Political/cultural, within regional and local contexts
  • Politicization of crime policy
  • Prison institution, shaped by cultural/political forces
  • Prisons, as powerful forces of punishment


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