chapter  3
31 Pages

On Georg Rusche and Otto Kirchheimer, Punishment and Social Structure

ByDario Melossi

The time indeed has come for a new edition of Georg Rusche and Otto Kirchheimer's Punishment and Social Structure. It is also that, while the "high" on "culture" that has deeply affected the social scientific academia in the last quarter of a century or so is slowly waning, we may be in the position to exercise a more "sober" evaluation of both the strengths and weaknesses of a book like Punishment and Social Structure. In the rather progressive environment of Saxony in the late 1920s he became involved in prison work, at Bautzen prison, and doubtlessly that experience turned him toward a special interest in matters of punishment that had not yet appeared in his studies, both of his dissertations being of a more theoretical nature. The study itself, however, was not to be published until six years later, under the title of Punishment and Social Structure, co-authored with Otto Kirchheimer.