Research Output
Progressive Penality as Performance
  Scotland’s prison population remains stubbornly high despite reforms to sentencing and community penalties (most recently in 2016). Seeking to advance the debate on punishment in Scotland, we use empirical data to support a novel theoretical synthesis of the ‘agonistic framework’ and ‘performative regulation’. We argue that these reforms appear oriented towards decarceration, without substantively engaging with the drivers of imprisonment, and hence exemplify the ‘performative’ nature of much Scottish penal policy. The ‘performance’ is shaped by countervailing political constraints on the Scottish Nationalist government, amid continued debate over independence – but truly progressive penal policy requires radical and substantive responses to the problems that punishment seeks to address.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    10 August 2022

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  • ISSN:


  • Funders:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded


Buchan, J., & McNeill, F. (in press). Progressive Penality as Performance. Howard Journal of Crime and Justice,



Penal policy, Scotland, performative regulation, penal field, community penalties, probation, community justice, agonistic framework

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