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Offending Women

Power, Punishment, and the Regulation of Desire

Lynne Haney (Author)


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Offending Women is an eye-opening journey into the lived reality of prison for women in the United States today. Lynne Haney looks at incarcerated mothers, housed together with their children, who are serving terms in alternative, community-based prisons-a type of facility that is becoming increasingly widespread. Incorporating vivid, sometimes shocking observations of daily life, she probes the dynamics of power over women's minds and bodies that play out in two such institutions in California. She finds that these “alternative” prisons, contrary to their aims, often end up disempowering women, transforming their social vulnerabilities into personal pathologies, and pushing them into a state of disentitlement. Uncovering the complex gendered underpinning of methods of control and intervention used in the criminal justice system today, Offending Women links that system to broader discussions on contemporary government and state power, asks why these strategies have arisen at this particular moment in time, and considers what forms of citizenship they have given rise to.
Introduction: An Ethnographic Journey across States

Part I. In a State of Dependence
1. Limited Government: Training Women What to Need
2. Deconstructing Dependency: Needs, Rights, and the Struggle for Entitlement
3. Hybrid States and Government from a Distance

Part II. In a State of Recovery
4. State Therapeutics: Training Women What to Want
5. The Empowerment Myth: Social Vulnerability as Personal Pathology
6. The Enemies Within: Fighting the Sisters and Numbing the Self

Conclusion: States of Disentitlement and the Therapeutics of Neoliberalism
Lynne A. Haney is Professor of Sociology at New York University. She is the author of Inventing the Needy: Gender, Politics, and State Development in Hungary and a coauthor of Global Ethnography: Forces, Connections, and Imaginations in a Postmodern World (both available from UC Press). She is also the editor of Families of a New World: Gender, Politics, and State Development in a Global Context.
“I strongly recommend this book. Haney’s account is rich with ethnographic detail that brings life to abstract debates about mode of governance and the state.”—American Journal Of Sociology / AJS
“Enriched with vivid images and details on incarcerated women’s lives, this book reminds us of incarcerated women’s social realities.”—Olivera Simic Feminist Review
“Insightful. . . . This book will appeal to persons with an interest in women’s studies.”—Jack E. Call Law & Politics Book Review
“Offending women makes excellent use of ethnographic material and close observation to build a compelling analysis of two state institutions.”—British Jrnl Of Sociology
“Lynne Haney is already an important voice in the sociology of welfare but this book marks her debut as a major figure in the sociology of punishment and the study of governmentality. Offending Women is a fascinating work that combines rich ethnographic detail with a structural account of the changing contours of contemporary governance. Its original contributions to prison ethnography, women's studies, and the sociology of the penal-welfare state will make it a reference point in each of these disciplines.”—David Garland, author of The Culture of Control

Offending Women is an exemplary piece of work. Haney's writing is engaging, crisp, and smart. She brilliantly assesses the various intentions of the state and incarcerated women and clarifies how these intentions are based on orientations toward punishment and 'healing' that demand fundamental rethinking.”—Rickie Solinger, author of Pregnancy and Power and co-editor of Interrupted Life: Experiences of Incarcerated Women in the United States

"Lynne Haney brings together her stupendous skills as an ethnographer and her theoretical insights into how states work to explain how the treatment of imprisoned women has changed over the past decade. An altogether brilliant book."—Myra Marx Ferree, University of Wisconsin

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