Surplus Populations and the State: A Criminological View


Surplus populations are back on the political agenda. With the rise of automation technologies and the advent of the hyperflexible ‘gig economy’, millions of individuals across the post-industrialised world will likely become supernumerary or consigned to low-quality jobs in the service sector. Neoliberalism signalled the abdication of the state’s responsibility for ensuring full employment and providing high-quality employment. However, criminology has largely forgotten the central roles played by both in preventing the spread of social pathologies. Against the logic of neoliberalism, what is needed is a state capable of counteracting the formation of surplus populations, or an anti-surplus state. A second New Deal would enact infrastructure investments and re-embed superfluous populations into meaningful employment relations. Following Bourdieu’s criticism of a scientistic ‘flight into purity’, criminologists should adopt the lessons learned by Sweden’s interwar social democrats and advocate policies capable of preventing the augmentation of social superfluity.

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Published: 2019-02-18
Pages:131 to 146
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How to Cite
Shammas, V. L. (2019) “Surplus Populations and the State: A Criminological View”, International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 8(1), pp. 131-146. doi: 10.5204/ijcjsd.v8i1.1032.

Author Biography

Oslo Metropolitan University

Dr. Victor L. Shammas is a Senior Researcher at the Work Research Institute (AFI), Oslo Metropolitan University, Norway. His research has appeared in journals like Punishment & Society, British Journal of Criminology, Constellations, Law & Critique, and Criminology & Criminal Justice. His work is available on his website: