Reframing Punishment



This inter-, trans- and multi-disciplinary project seeks to examine and explore issues surrounding punishment. The concept of punishment has a long history and diverse cultural, social and criminological meanings.  Research and debate is often focused on the offender, the offence, the state and legal codification.  In contrast, this project seeks to re-frame these debates in order to combine the insights they produce with broader cultural meanings, social representations and ritualistic or other activity.  Therefore, the aim of the project is to develop different ways of understanding the penetration and complexity of shared understandings of punishment from a variety of perspectives, approaches and practitioner experiences.


The project will explore and assess a number of core themes:

  • Cultural (including cross-/inter-cultural) notions of what constitutes punishment
  • Punishment and child development/child rearing
  • Theories of punishment: What is punishment’s purpose? Ideal methods? Is punishment limited to humans? What about animals or nature, and in some societies, why is imprisonment such a key form of punishment?
  • Space and its role in enhancing or ameliorating punishment
  • Representations of punishment in contemporary times and across historical periods

Related themes will also be identified for development and exploration. Out of our deliberations it is anticipated that a series of related cross context research projects will develop.