Carceral Power in World Historical Context

Bridging the Methodological and Theoretical Contributions of World-Systems Analysis and Radical Criminology


  • Zhandarka Kurti
  • Zeynep Gönen



World-Systems Analysis, Radical Criminology, Capitalist Crisis, Global Capitalism, Neoliberalism, Security, Carceral Power, Carceral State


This paper invites a conversation between world-systems perspective and radical criminology to contribute to a more robust materialist, historical, and global understanding of policing, prisons, and carceral power. We trace the genealogy of these two approaches to the larger transformations of global capitalism in the 1960s and 1970s, including ruling class responses to capitalist crises vis a vis neoliberal restructuring as well as the social struggles waged by antisystemic movements. Both world-systems and radical criminology brought a critical and Marxist perspective to the liberal social sciences, yet dialogue between them has been lacking. On the one hand, world-systems analysis offers a structural explanation of capitalism but often side steps the role that carceral power plays to manage the system’s deepening contradictions. On the other hand, radical criminology focuses on carceral power but often limits its analysis to advanced core countries and not to the entire capitalist system. We argue that bringing these two critical approaches together can offer us a renewed Marxist perspective to the interrelated issues of capitalist crisis and carceral power and thus make possible new lines of inquiry and research best suited for grappling with the major contradictions of capitalism in the twenty-first century.


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How to Cite

Kurti, Z., & Gönen, Z. (2024). Carceral Power in World Historical Context: Bridging the Methodological and Theoretical Contributions of World-Systems Analysis and Radical Criminology . Journal of World-Systems Research, 30(1), 421–450.