The Dual Penal State

- Project in Progress Page -

Markus Dubber


What's this?
It's an experiment, a project-in-progress page (PiPP), which ... traces the progress of a scholarly project online. As papers related to the project appear online (in the usual places, most notably SSRN), they are integrated into the PiPP outline. The PiPP, in other words, is the rug that holds the room together, if that's possible while the room is still being assembled.

Will it be a book?
Yes (paperback), for now. But who knows what academic publishing will look like a few years from now? Or next year, for that matter? I don't. Papers (formerly known as "journal articles") have moved online (as have the "journals"), so why wouldn't longer works (formerly known as "books")? "Articles" are being "prepublished" (and "preprinted") online, so why shouldn't "books"? 

What's it about?
For some time, I've been puzzling over two concepts--"law" and "police." Let's call them modes of governance. Whatever they're called, the distinction between law and police seemed to me to get at some interesting features of how people have governed, and have thought and talked about governing, for quite some time: since the days of Ancient Greece or at least since the Enlightenment, depending on who's counting. I wrote a book to see whether this vague sense of significance was based on anything resembling historical evidence; having convinced myself, and some others, that it was, I then set out--with the help of patient colleagues and friends--to find a place for the distinction between law and police in the disciplinary landscape of contemporary scholarship and, eventually, to respond to questions like "but what does it do?" (or its common variant "but what normative work does it do?") and, more specifically, "why don't you work this out in a general theory of criminal law?" This PiPP records my ongoing attempt to address these questions, and many others besides. The PiPP, then, is a work in progress both because answers to existing questions remain unsettled and because many questions have yet to be asked. In the end, will there even be a room that this PiPP could hold together? It's too soon to tell.

What's the point?
There are two points, really. The obvious point is to lay out a comprehensive critical analysis of the modern penal state from the perspectives of law and police. The less obvious one is to illustrate, using the state's penal power as an example, a general approach to legal scholarship, which regards the critical analysis of law (New Legal Science) as complementing the critical analysis of police (New Police Science) to constitute a comprehensive analysis of state power (New State Science). 

-- Markus Dubber