The growing application of mechanisms of contractual governance to behaviour that breaches social norms, rather than the criminal law, appears to represent an ethopolitical concern with delinquent self-reform through the activation of technologies of the self. In fact, there is little empirical evidence that the contractual governance of incivility leads to such self-reform. Beneath the ideology of contractual agreement to observe social norms lies what this paper calls a second-chance punitivism which operates to crystallize behavioural elements of the Hobbesian social contract, after breach, into a more specific form. The responsibilizing and individualizing properties of this form of contractual governance set the moral-ideological platform for a retributive punitivism, when the rational agents it creates fail to live up to their image, and are taken to have wasted their second chance.
Victoria University of Wellington
Crimes of the Powerful: organised, white collar and state crime