You are not currently logged in. Please create an account or log in to view the full course.

Sociology   >   Prisons, Punishment and Penology

Introduction to Penology

  • About
  • Transcript
  • Cite

Prisons, Punishment and Penology

In this course, Dr David Scott (The Open University) explores key philosophical and sociological approaches to prisons, punishment and penology. In the first lecture, we introduce some key areas of interest within penology, looking especially at moral justifications for punishment. In the second lecture, we consider the classical philosophical approaches of Cesare Beccaria, Jeremy Bentham, Immanuel Kant, and William Godwin. In the third lecture, we think about Émile Durkheim’s sociological work on punishment. Next, we think about the Marxist approach of Georg Rusche and Otto Kirchheimer. In the fifth lecture, we examine Michel Foucault’s influential account of the emergence of the prison in modern capitalist society. In the sixth and final lecture, we explore some contemporary penological debates.

Introduction to Penology

In this lecture, we introduce some key areas of interest within penology, focusing in particular on: (i) the question of legitimacy and whether states have the right to punish, looking at the main justifications of state punishment – deterrence, incapacitation, reform and rehabilitation, and retribution; (ii) issues around power and inequality, and the disproportionate application of punishment to marginalised social groups; (iii) the relationship between social change and penal change as a central focus of penology.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Scott, D. (2021, August 24). Prisons, Punishment and Penology - Introduction to Penology [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Scott, D. "Prisons, Punishment and Penology – Introduction to Penology." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 24 Aug 2021,

Image Credits


lecturer placeholder image

Dr David Scott

Open University