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Security, the Social State and Punitive Culture PDF Print E-mail

Laboratory of legal sociology of the Universidad de Zaragoza, funded by the Ministry of Science and Innovation. 

Funding Body: Ministry of Science and Innovation 
Duration: 2006 -2009
Researcher in charge:  María José Bernuz Beneitez
Risk is not a new invention. However, the same cannot be said of the characteristics which define it, which describe risks as social and define postmodern society as a “risk society”. This new dimension of risk makes itself felt in the most diverse scientific spheres (which have traditionally worked on the question of risk) and above all in social spheres.  The formation of a risk society in which uncertainty and fear are the keynotes of everyday life is in turn fostering the consolidation of a terrified society.  
This redefinition of society in terms of fear and uncertainty gives rise to different consequences, which should be analysed. One of these is the prevalence of security over other values, accompanied by the evident loss of solidity of social policies and the inefficacy of fundamental rights and public freedoms. Another is the individual’s responsibility towards the prevention of and protection against public risks; with the consequent loss of power on the part of the state regarding the protection of individuals. In turn, the regulation of the different forms of everyday violence appears as a new challenge for law and justice. Finally it should be shown that a terrified society who sees in the other a danger to be avoided and eliminated demands a mainly corrective law and turns into a punitive culture.  
To be more specific, with this project the group of researchers from the Universidad de La Rioja and the Universidad de Zaragoza, as was the case previously for other projects funded by the Ministry, aims to analyse from a multidisciplinary perspective the new and changing phenomena affecting our central conceptions of the state, society, the law, the role of the individual, the function of juridical and political institutions, the evolution of social values and political ideologies. In some way the project presented should allow us to continue with our mission to be something like a permanent Observatory and critic of the present social, juridical and political reality which also produces rational, reasonable solutions. In fact, the objectives and purposes of this project are very much in line with the subjects and problems which the working group composed by the researchers of the two Universities habitually consider and research.  

Research Team:

Mª José Bernuz Beneitez
Manuel Calvo García
José Ignacio Lacasta Zabalza
Carmen Elboj Sasso
Esther Fernández Molina
Andrés García Inda
Mª José González Ordovás
Teresa Picontó Novales