The penalization of protest under neoliberalism: managing resistance through punishment

  • Ignacio González-Sánchez
  • Manuel Maroto-Calatayud


The repression of anti-austerity protests in Spain from 2011 to 2014 constitutes an example of how neoliberal developments are facilitated by the penal system as it limits political resistances to the imposition of precarious working conditions and social cuts. The limits imposed on contentious politics are both material (consisting of banning acts that are prominent in social movement’s repertoire of contention, fining demonstrators, etc.) and symbolic (consisting of transforming the meaning of legitimate politics by imposing new legal and political definitions). This case study is used to illustrate the interconnection between labor markets, social policies and the repression of social protest, and to elaborate on Wacquant’s approach to the relationship between punishment and other social institutions. It is at such times of political and economic crisis when institutional interconnections seem particularly exposed, arguably enabling more profound analyses.



This paper benefited from funding from research projects DER2015-64403-P, DER2014-59743-P, and HAR2016-75098-R, from the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of LawUniversity of GironaGironaSpain
  2. 2.School of Legal and Social SciencesUniversity of Castilla-La ManchaToledoSpain

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