Progressive Punishment begins with an early and disorienting moment from Schept’s field research, when he first encountered a local official criticizing the prison industrial complex and calling for significant local carceral expansion. The chapter uses this seeming contradiction as a point of departure for discussing several foundational elements of the book. First, the chapter discusses the ways that carceral expansion in Bloomington fits into and complicates the national picture of mass incarceration. Building on that discussion, the chapter then introduces a central element of the book’s theoretical framework: carceral habitus, or the ways that neoliberal policies and logics structured community dispositions, including those that appeared to reject incarceration. The book uses carceral habitus as a way to reconcile the power of the neoliberal carceral state to structure its own reproduction with the ways communities filter dominant logics of imprisonment to fit particular political and cultural contexts. Finally, the Introduction discusses the importance of ethnography attuned to the structural and historical production of local events and dispositions.
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