School of Social and Cultural Studies

Prof John Pratt

Director - Institute of Criminology (MA and PhD Students)
School of Social and Cultural Studies

Phone: 04 463 5327
Location: Room 1116, Murphy Building, Kelburn Pde, Kelburn Campus

Prof John Pratt

Currently Teaching

CRIM 312 - Punishment and Modern Society
Course Coordinator

CRIM 316 - Criminological Theory
Course Coordinator

CRIM 416 - The Sociology of Punishment
Course Coordinator


LLB (Hons) (Lond), MA (Keele), PhD (Sheff)

Research Specialties

History and sociology of punishment.

Awards and Fellowships

Professor Pratt is the recipient of the 2013 Mason Durie Medal which is awarded by the Royal Society of New Zealand for advancing the frontiers of social science. The award acknowledges outstanding contributions to the social sciences that, while originating in a New Zealand environment, have had an international impact.

In 2012 the Academy of the Royal Society of New Zealand elected Professor Pratt to the Fellowship of the Royal Society of New Zealand. The news release on the Royal Society website stated that he 'is internationally acclaimed for his research concentrating on the study of why penal policies change in modern societies and why the punishment of offenders takes particular forms at different times.'

He was the Royal Society of New Zealand James Cook Research Fellow July 2009 to June 2012. He was also a Fellow at the Straus Institute for Advanced Studies of Law and Justice, New York University 2010/ 2011. His new book (with Anna Eriksson), Contrasts in Punishment: An Explanation of Anglophone Excess and Nordic Exceptionalism, was published in the Routledge Frontiers of Criminal Justice series, January 2013.

In 2009 he was awarded the Radzinowicz Prize by the editorial board of the British Journal of Criminology for his two-part article on ‘Scandinavian Exceptionalism’ which appeared in that journal in 2008. The prize is awarded for the article that ‘most advanced the discipline of criminology’ in its year of publication.

In 2000, 2002 and 2009 Professor Pratt received Victoria University awards for Research Excellence; in 2005 he received a similar award for Teaching Excellence.


Professor John Pratt graduated in law from London University before studying criminology for graduate degrees at the universities of Keele and Sheffield in England. His research interests are in the areas of the sociology and history of punishment, and criminological and social theory.

Professor Pratt has published extensively in these areas, including 'Punishment in a Perfect Society' (1993), 'Governing the Dangerous' (1998), 'Dangerous Offenders: Punishment and Social Order (with Mark Brown, 2000), 'Punishment and Civilization' (2002).

Since 1997, Professor Pratt has been editor of the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology.

Recent Publications

Pratt J., A Punitive Society: Falling Crime and Rising Imprisonment in New Zealand. (Bridget Williams Books December 2013).

Pratt J and  A. Eriksson, Contrasts in Punishment: an explanation of Anglophone excess and Nordic exceptionalism. (Routledge January 2013).

Why do some modern societies punish their offenders differently to others? Why are some more punitive and others more tolerant in their approach to offending, and how can these differences be explained? Based on extensive historical analysis and fieldwork in the penal systems of England, Australia and New Zealand on the one hand, and Finland, Norway and Sweden on the other, this book seeks to address these underlying questions.

The book argues that the penal differences that currently exist between these two clusters of societies emanate from their early nineteenth century social arrangements. The Anglophone societies were dominated by exclusionary values systems, in contrast to the more inclusionary values of the Nordic. The development of their penal programmes over this two hundred year period, including the much earlier demise of the death penalty in the Nordic countries and the significant differences between the respective prison rates and prison conditions of the two clusters, reflects the continuing influence of these values. Indeed, in the early twenty-first century, these differences have become even more pronounced.

Anna Eriksson is a Senior Lecturer in Criminology at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia. In 2009, she was awarded the New Scholar Prize by the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology for best publication and , in 2012, was the recipient of one of only two Australian Research Councils Awards for early career researchers in criminology, funding a three year study on comparative punishment between Australia and Sweden.

Pratt J. and A. Eriksson (2012): Was macht das Bestrafen in skandinavischen Ländern so anders [Why is punishment in Scandinavian countries so different]? In: Peter Rieker, Sven Huber, Anna Schnitzer & Simone Brauchli (Hg.): Hilfe! Strafe! Reflexionen zu einem Spannungsverhältnis professionellen Handeln [Help! Punishment! Reflections on a Dilemma for Professional Action]. Weinheim/Basel: Beltz Juventa, S. 80-100

Pratt J, 'Punishment and 'The Civilizing Process'' in The Sage Handbook of Punishment and Society, edited by R. Sparks and J. Simon (London, Sage, 2012), pp. 90-113

Pratt J. and A. Eriksson (2012), 'Penal Policy and the Social Democratic Image of Society', in K. Carrington et al (eds), Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, London: Macmillan, pp's 51-69

Pratt J, 'Penal excess and penal exceptionalism: welfare and imprisonment in Scandinavian and Anglophone societies', in International Governance and Comparative Criminal Justice and Urban Governance, edited by Adam Crawford (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2011), pp. 251-275.

Pratt J D, 'The Power and Limits of Populism: An Illustration from Recent Penal Developments in New Zealand', in Emotions, Crime and Justice, edited by S. Karstedt, I. Loader, H. Strang (Oxford, Hart Publishing, 2011), pp. 331-346.

Pratt J D, Eriksson A, 'In defence of Scandinavian exceptionalism', in Nordic Prison Practice and Policy - Exceptional or Not?: Exploring Penal Exceptionalism in the Nordic Context, edited by Jane Dullum and Thomas Ugelvik (Routledge, 2011), pp. 235-260.

Pratt J, 'Norbert Elias, the civilizing process and penal development in modern society', The Sociological Review Monograph, Norbert Elias and Figurational Research: Processual Thinking in Sociology, 58, 1, June (2011), pp. 220-240.

Pratt J, 'The international diffusion of punitive penality: or, penal exceptionalism in the United States? Wacquant v Whitman', Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 44, 1, April (2011), pp. 116-128. 10.1177/0004865810393107.

Pratt J, Eriksson A, ''Mr. Larsson is walking out again'. The origins and development of Scandinavian prison systems', Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 44, 1, April (2011), pp. 7-23.

Pratt J D, 'From abusive families to internet predators? the rise, retraction and reconfiguration of sexual abuse as a social problem in Canada', Current Sociology, 57, 1 (2009), pp. 69-88.

Pratt J D, Eriksson A, 'Den skandinaviska exeptionalismen i kriminalpolitiken', Nordisk Tidsskrift for Kriminalvidenskab, 96, 2, August (2009), pp. 135-151.

Pratt J D, 'Scandinavian exceptionalism in an era of penal excess. Part 1: the nature and roots of Scandinavian exceptionalism', British Journal of Criminology, 48, 2, March (2008), pp. 119-137.

Pratt J D, 'Scandinavian exceptionalism in an era of penal excess. Part 2: does Scandinavian exceptionalism have a future?', British Journal of Criminology (2008), pp. 275-292.

Pratt, John, 'Elias, punishment and decivilization', in Pratt, John., Brown, David., Brown, Mark., Hallsworth, Simon. and Morrison, Wayne (eds), The New Punitiveness (London: Willan Publishing), (2005), pp. 256-271.

Pratt, John and Clark, Marie, 'Penal populism in New Zealand', Punishment and Society, 7, 3, (2005), pp. 303-322.

Pratt, John, 'Child sexual abuse: purity and danger in an age of anxiety', Crime, law and social change', 43, 3, (2005), pp.1-25.

Pratt, John, 'Explaining the History of Punishment' in Godfrey, Barry and Dunstall, Graham (eds), Comparative Histories of Crime, vol 2, (London: Willan Publishing), 2005, pp. 25-42.

Pratt, John, 'Beyond evangelical criminology' in Aertson, Ivor., Daems, Tom. and Robert, Luc (eds), Institutionalizing restorative justice, (London: Willan publishing), 2005.

Pratt, John, 'Review of Fairweather, L. and McConville, S. (eds), Prison architecture: policy, design, experience, in Punishment and Society, 7, 1 (2005), pp. 98-100.

Gilligan, George and Pratt, John (eds), Crime, truth and justice: official inquiry, discourse, knowledge (Cullompton, Willan Publishing, 2003), 280pp.

Pratt, John. 'Introduction', in Gilligan, G. and Pratt, J. (eds), Crime, truth and justice: official inquiry, discourse, knowledge (Cullompton, Willan Publishing, 2003), pp. 1-7.

Pratt, John. 'The acceptable prison: official discourse, truth and legitimacy in the nineteenth century', in Gilligan, G. and Pratt, J. (eds), Crime, truth and justice: official inquiry, discourse, knowledge (Cullompton, Willan Publishing, 2003), pp. 71-88.

Pratt, John. 'The decline and renaissance of shaming in modern penal systems', in B. Godfrey, C. Elmsley and G. Dunstall (eds), Comparative Histories of Crime (Devon, Willan Publishing, 2003), pp. 178-194.

Pratt, John. 'Norbert Elias and the Civilized Prison', in Dunning, E. and Mennell, S. (eds), Norbert Elias (London, Sage, 2003), pp.

Pratt, John. 'The Disappearance of Prison: an episode in the Civilizing Process', in C. Strange and A. Bashford (eds), Places of Exclusion (London, Routledge, 2003), pp. 23-39.

Pratt, John. 'Theories of Law, Criminology and Penal Reform', in Claeys, G. (ed), Encyclopedia of Nineteenth Century Thought (London, Routledge, 2003)

Selected Publications

Pratt, John. Punishment and Civilization (London, Sage, (2002), 213pp.

Pratt, John. 'The Abusive Society: a review essay', Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 35 (2002), pp. 383-402.

Pratt, John. 'The Globalization of Punishment?', Correction Today, 64 (2002), pp. 64-68.

Pratt, John. 'Critical Criminology and the Punitive Society: some new "Visions of Social Control" ', in K. Carrington and R. Hoggs (eds), Critical Criminology (London, Willan, 2002), pp. 168-184.

Pratt, John. 'Corporatism: the third model of juvenile justice', in E. McLaughlin and J. Muncie (eds), Youth Justice: A Reader (London, Sage, 2002), pp. 404-412.

Pratt, John. 'Beyond 'gulags Western style'? A reconsideration of Nils Christie's 'crime control as industry'', Theoretical Criminology, 5, 3 (2001), pp. 283-314.

Pratt, John. 'Dangerosite, risqué et technologies du pouvoir', Criminologie, 34 (2001), pp. 103-121.

Brown, M. and Pratt, J. (eds). Dangerous Offenders: Punishment and Social Order (London, Routledge, 2000), 197pp.

Pratt, John. 'The Return of the Wheelbarrow Men; or, the Arrival of Postmodern Penality?', British Journal of Criminology, 40, 1 (2000), pp. 127-146.

Pratt, John. 'Emotive and ostentatious Punishment: its decline and resurgence in modern society', Punishment and Society, 2 (2000), pp. 417-439.

Pratt, John. 'Civilization and Punishment', Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 33 (2000), pp. 183-201.

Pratt, John. 'Sex crimes and the new Punitiveness', Behavioural Sciences and the Law, 18 (2000), pp. 135-151.

Pratt, John. 'Introduction', in M. Brown and J. Pratt (eds), Dangerous Offenders: Punishment and Social Order (London, Routledge, 2000), pp. 1-14.

Pratt, John. 'Dangerousness and Modern Society', in M. Brown and J. Pratt (eds), Dangerous Offenders: Punishment and Social Order (London, Routledge, 2000), pp. 35-48.

Pratt, John. 'Norbert Elias and the Civilized Prison', British Journal of Sociology, 50 (1999), pp. 271-296.

Pratt, John and Priestley, Zoe. 'The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology Thirty years on', Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 32 (1999), pp. 315-324.

Pratt, John. 'Governmentality, Dangerousness and Neoliberalism', in R. Smandych (ed), Governable Places (Aldershot, Dartmouth, 1999), pp. 133-162.

Pratt, John. 'The rise and fall of homophobia and sexual psychopath laws in postwar society', Psychology, Law and Public Policy (1998), pp. 25-49.

Pratt, John. 'Towards the Decivilizing of Punishment', Social and Legal Studies, 7 (1998), pp. 487-515.

Pratt, John. 'Assimilation, Equality, Sovereignty. The Maori and the Criminal Justice and Welfare Systems', in P. Havemann (ed), New frontiers: consitutionalising aboriginal rights in Australia, Canada and New Zealand 1975-1995 (Auckland, Oxford University Press, 1998), pp. 316-328.

Pratt, John. 'Dangerousness, Risk and Technologies of Power', in P. O'Malley (ed), Crime and the Risk Society (Bristol, Ashgate, 1998), pp. 300-327.

Pratt, John. Governing the Dangerous (Annandale, Australia, Federation Press, 1997), 218pp.

Pratt, John and Dickson, Marny. 'Dangerous, Inadequate, Invisible, Out: Episodes in the criminological career of habitual criminals', Theoretical Criminology, 1 (1997), pp. 363-384.

Memberships, Appointments and Other Work

  • Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand
  • Member of the International Editorial Board for the journal of Theoretical Criminology
  • Member of the International Editorial Board for the journal of Punishment and Society