Carceral Capitalism
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"Carceral Capitalism" Summary

By Jackie Wang

nonfiction | 359 pages | Published in 2017

Essays on the contemporary continuum of incarceration: the biopolitics of juvenile delinquency, predatory policing, the political economy of fees and fines, and algorithmic policing.What we see happening in Ferguson and other cities around the country is not the creation of livable spaces, but the creation of living hells. When people are trapped in a cycle of debt it also can affect their subjectivity and how they temporally inhabit the world by making it difficult for them to imagine and plan for the future. What psychic toll does this have on residents? How does it feel to be routinely dehumanized and exploited by the police?—from Carceral CapitalismIn this collection of essays in Semiotext(e)'s Intervention series, Jackie Wang examines the contemporary incarceration techniques that have emerged since the 1990s. The essays illustrate various aspects of the carceral continuum, including the biopolitics of juvenile delinquency, predatory policing, the political economy of fees and fines, cybernetic governance, and algorithmic policing. Included in this volume is Wang's influential critique of liberal anti-racist politics, “Against Innocence,” as well as essays on RoboCop, techno-policing, and the aesthetic problem of making invisible forms of power legible.Wang shows that the new racial capitalism begins with parasitic governance and predatory lending that extends credit only to dispossess later. Predatory lending has a decidedly spatial character and exists in many forms, including subprime mortgage loans, student loans for sham for-profit colleges, car loans, rent-to-own scams, payday loans, and bail bond loans. Parasitic governance, Wang argues, operates through five primary techniques: financial states of exception, automation, extraction and looting, confinement, and gratuitous violence. While these techniques of governance often involve physical confinement and the state-sanctioned execution of black Americans, new carceral modes have blurred the distinction between the inside and outside of prison. As technologies of control are perfected, carcerality tends to bleed into society.

ISBN_13:9781635900026

Estimated read time: 5 min read

One Sentence Summary

An incisive exploration of the intersections between racial capitalism, state violence, and the prison industrial complex.

Carceral Capitalism: Book Summary

Introduction

"Carceral Capitalism" by Jackie Wang is a thought-provoking exploration of the intersection between the prison-industrial complex and the capitalist system. Through a series of essays, Wang delves into the ways in which the criminal justice system perpetuates and reinforces racial and economic inequalities. By examining the experiences of incarcerated individuals, Wang exposes the hidden mechanisms that drive the prison system and its ties to capitalism.

Brief Synopsis

The book is divided into several essays, each delving into different aspects of the carceral capitalist system. Wang begins by providing an overview of the historical context of mass incarceration in the United States and its roots in slavery and Jim Crow laws. She then explores the ways in which the prison system functions as a form of social control, targeting marginalized communities and perpetuating cycles of poverty and oppression.

Wang also examines the ways in which capitalism and the prison-industrial complex intersect. She discusses how corporations profit from the incarceration of individuals through prison labor, private prisons, and the financialization of the criminal justice system. By analyzing the commodification of the incarcerated body, Wang exposes the exploitative nature of carceral capitalism.

Main Events

Essay 1: "Against Innocence: Race, Gender, and the Politics of Safety"

In this essay, Wang discusses the concept of "innocence" and its limitations within the criminal justice system. She argues that the focus on innocence often obscures the structural inequalities that underlie the prison system, and that true justice requires a broader understanding of the intersections of race, gender, and class.

Essay 2: "Criminalizing Crisis: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism"

Wang explores the ways in which crises, such as natural disasters and economic recessions, are exploited by the capitalist system to further criminalize and control marginalized communities. She examines the role of neoliberal policies and the privatization of public services in perpetuating this cycle of criminalization.

Essay 3: "The Carceral Network: Biopower, Capitalism, and Black Feminism"

In this essay, Wang delves into the concept of "biopower" and its relation to the prison-industrial complex. She highlights the ways in which the state exercises control over individuals' bodies and lives through surveillance, punishment, and the regulation of labor. Wang also explores the contributions of Black feminist thinkers in understanding and challenging the carceral capitalist system.

Essay 4: "Carceral Technoscience: Biometrics, Predictive Policing, and the Digital Prison"

Wang examines the role of technology in the expansion and perpetuation of the prison-industrial complex. She discusses the use of biometrics, surveillance technologies, and predictive policing algorithms, highlighting their potential for reinforcing racial biases and further entrenching the carceral capitalist system.

Main Characters

Jackie Wang: The author of the book, Wang provides an insightful and critical analysis of the carceral capitalist system. Through her research and personal experiences, she sheds light on the injustices and inequalities perpetuated by the prison-industrial complex.

Incarcerated Individuals: While not specific characters, the experiences and stories of incarcerated individuals are central to Wang's analysis. Their voices and perspectives serve as a powerful critique of the prison system and its impact on marginalized communities.

Themes and Insights

Racial and Economic Inequalities

A major theme in "Carceral Capitalism" is the intersectionality of race and class within the prison-industrial complex. Wang highlights how the criminal justice system disproportionately targets and incarcerates individuals from marginalized communities, perpetuating cycles of poverty and oppression.

Exploitation and Commodification

Wang exposes the ways in which capitalism capitalizes on the incarceration of individuals through prison labor and the financialization of the criminal justice system. She reveals the exploitative nature of carceral capitalism, where corporations profit from the commodification of incarcerated bodies.

Power and Control

The book explores the mechanisms of power and control employed by the prison-industrial complex. Wang analyzes how the state exercises authority over individuals' bodies, lives, and labor through surveillance, punishment, and technological advancements. She also highlights the resistance and resilience of marginalized communities in challenging these systems of control.

Reader's Takeaway

"Carceral Capitalism" is a thought-provoking and eye-opening book that exposes the intricate connections between the prison-industrial complex and capitalism. Through her insightful analysis, Jackie Wang challenges readers to critically examine the ways in which the criminal justice system perpetuates and reinforces racial and economic inequalities. This book serves as a call to action for readers to question and resist the oppressive systems that perpetuate the cycle of incarceration and exploitation.

Conclusion

In "Carceral Capitalism," Jackie Wang provides a comprehensive and critical analysis of the prison-industrial complex and its ties to capitalism. Through a series of essays, she exposes the ways in which the criminal justice system perpetuates racial and economic inequalities, while also exploring the intersections of power, control, and resistance. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding and challenging the oppressive systems that shape our society.

Carceral Capitalism FAQ

  1. What is the main theme of 'Carceral Capitalism'?

    The main theme of 'Carceral Capitalism' is the intersection of capitalism and the prison-industrial complex, exploring how both systems perpetuate racial and economic inequality.

  2. Who is the author of 'Carceral Capitalism'?

    The author of 'Carceral Capitalism' is Jackie Wang.

  3. What are some key topics discussed in 'Carceral Capitalism'?

    Some key topics discussed in 'Carceral Capitalism' include the relationship between policing and capitalism, the role of debt and credit in perpetuating inequality, and the impact of incarceration on marginalized communities.

  4. Is 'Carceral Capitalism' a scholarly book?

    Yes, 'Carceral Capitalism' is considered a scholarly book. It provides extensive research and analysis on the topic.

  5. Does 'Carceral Capitalism' offer any solutions or alternatives?

    Yes, 'Carceral Capitalism' explores potential alternatives to the current system, such as community-based approaches to justice and economic transformation.

  6. What is the writing style of 'Carceral Capitalism'?

    The writing style of 'Carceral Capitalism' is a blend of academic analysis and personal narratives, making it accessible to both academic and non-academic readers.

  7. Is 'Carceral Capitalism' focused on a specific country or region?

    'Carceral Capitalism' primarily focuses on the United States, but also draws connections to global systems of capitalism and incarceration.

  8. Who would benefit from reading 'Carceral Capitalism'?

    Anyone interested in understanding the complex relationship between capitalism and the prison-industrial complex, as well as those interested in social justice and criminal justice reform, would benefit from reading 'Carceral Capitalism'.

  9. Are there any recommended books or resources related to 'Carceral Capitalism'?

    Yes, 'Carceral Capitalism' provides a list of recommended books and resources for further reading and exploration of the topic.

  10. Does 'Carceral Capitalism' provide statistical data to support its arguments?

    Yes, 'Carceral Capitalism' relies on statistical data and research to support its arguments and analysis.