Comparative Politics Workshop: Joe Soss and Joshua Page, "Preying on the Poor: Criminal Justice as Revenue Racket," Wednesday, March 10, 11:45am-1:45pm

Comparative Politics Workshop: Joe Soss and Joshua Page, “Preying on the Poor: Criminal Justice as Revenue Racket,” Wednesday, March 10, 11:45am-1:45pm

Please join the Comparative Politics Workshop virtually via Zoom on Wednesday, March 10, 11:45am-1:45pm. Joe Soss and Joshua Page will be presenting their paper on Preying on the Poor. The abstract is below. Support your peers and engage in a lively discussion. Unfortunately, there is no free wine (but you may provide your own). Feel free to bring a bagged lunch, as it is that time of day!
To receive a copy of the paper, as well as a link to the event, kindly email
This next week’s workshop will follow a different pattern. Joe Soss and Joshua Page (U Minnesota) are sharing selections from a co-authored book-in-progress, titled Preying on the Poor: Criminal Justice as Revenue Racket. The selections we are sending are ten pages from Chapter 6, and all of Chapter 8. The first ten pages of Chapter 6 set up the three bail chapters as an extended case study and discuss methodological issues. Chapter 8 connects practices and understandings on the ground to social structures (e.g., race, class, gender…). All three chapters (6, 7, and 8) are available upon request. Joe and Josh will provide some context of the larger project at the beginning of the workshop. Our co-discussants, Andrés and Osha, will discuss all three chapters, and help scaffold the discussion so attendees can focus on the selections from Chapter 6 and Chapter 8. To get a better sense of the project as a whole, before digging into the chapters, this interview published by Dissent offers an overview of the book. Short summaries of each chapter are copied below:
 Chapter 6 includes a section on methodology (institutional ethnography, case study, etc). We will most likely turn this into an appendix at some point. The important thing is that, despite the methodological discussion of ethnography, Chapter 6 really doesn’t focus much on Josh’s ethnographic research at A-Team Bail Bonds. It has a more historical and institutional focus designed to bring readers into the world of commercial bail, clarify how predation works in this arena, and shed some light on how bail politics and legitimation work on a national scale.
 Chapters 7 and 8 focus more intensively on the frontlines on bail predation, drawing on Josh’s work as a bail agent to explore the culture and practice of bail predation as it operates “in gear.” Chapter 7 begins with the bail agent’s conditions of employment and the experience of market competition as a structured field of play. We analyze the agent’s short game, exploring the techniques they use to advance client recruitment and close deals with co-signers, and then turn to the long game of social cooperation, showing how agents build revenue options by forging network ties and how competition operates through a moral economy of reciprocity, loyalty, and trust. In both cases, we see how bail practice operates as a kind of “regulated improvisation.” We conclude with an analysis of how, from the agent’s perspective, bail operates as a legitimate service industry. Chapter 8 focuses on how social structures of race, class, and gender organize predation in the field of commercial bail. We begin by exploring how constructions of race and class operate together as facets of organizational culture at A-Team and in the bail field more generally. We then analyze how race and class distinctions get put to use — deployed in the doing — as rubrics for imputing moral worth, defining behavioral expectations, and gauging financial risks. We then turn to the gender basis of bail predation, showing how, in conjunction with race and class, industry practices are structured by the gendered “social organizations of care” in American society. Finally, we end by returning to the question of legitimation — a topic explored in all three chapters — this time to clarify how discourses of race, class, and gender allow practitioners to see their own predatory practices as legitimate, reasonable, and right.