Authors Meet Critics

“Redistributing the Poor: Jails, Hospitals, and the Crisis of Law and Fiscal Austerity”

Recorded on April 19, 2021, this Social Science Matrix “Authors Meet Critics” panel featured the book Redistributing the Poor: Jails, Hospitals, and the Crisis of Law and Fiscal Austerity, by Armando Lara-Millán, Assistant Professor in the UC Berkeley Department of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley.

In his book, Lara-Millán, an ethnographer and historical sociologist, takes us into the day-to-day operations of running the largest hospital and jail system in the world and draws attention to how state agencies circulate people between different institutional spaces in such a way that generates revenue for some agencies, cuts costs for others, and projects illusions that services have been legally rendered.

By centering the state’s use of redistribution, Lara-Millán shows how certain forms of social suffering — the premature death of mainly poor, people of color — are not a result of the state’s failure to act, but instead the necessary outcome of so-called successful policy.

Panelists included Angèle Christin, Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication and affiliated faculty in the Sociology Department and Program in Science, Technology, and Society at Stanford University, and Jonathan Simon, Professor at Berkeley Law.

This event was co-sponsored by the Center for Study of Law and Society (CSLS).


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