Globalization has not led, and is unlikely to lead, to a global homogenization of penal policy and practices. Drawing on a study of penal systems in 12 contemporary capitalist countries (the United States of America, England and Wales, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Germany, the Netherlands, France, Italy, Sweden, Finland and Japan), this article demonstrates that the political economies of such countries can be broadly categorized as neo-liberal, conservative corporatist, social democratic or oriental corporatist. This categorization is strongly related to the punitiveness of the penal culture and the rates of imprisonment to be found in each country. The reasons for this association are discussed. One crucial factor may be the degree to which societies with different types of political economy are ‘inclusive’ rather than ‘exclusive’ towards deviant individuals.
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