Deconstructing neoliberal rationality in an increasingly punitive society: Canadian public support for "tough on crime" policies

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Patterson, Jill
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Research has shown that criminal justice policy in Western democratic societies has become increasingly punitive (e.g. Wilson and Petersilia 2010), and that the public largely supports these policies, despite the fact that crime rates have been declining (e.g. Roberts 2003). However, few studies have attempted to explain this paradox in the context of neoliberalism, and within a Canadian context. Using the 2011 and 1997 Canadian Election Study, this project employs logistical regression and a comparative analysis to examine the extent to which neoliberal governance has produced prejudicial attitudes towards racialized “Others,” social and economic insecurity, and attitudes that individualize causes of poverty, and the extent to which these factors predict support for punitive treatment of violent young offenders. The results of this study show that the advent of neoliberalism has precipitated racialized “othering” towards Aboriginal people, which has increased punitive attitudes, but that insecurity and individualization, in relations to punitive attitudes, was present previous to 1997.
Crime policy, Neoliberalism, Public opinion, Canada, Insecurity, Tough on crime