Briefing Room


Scholar to explore paradox of Western democracy

September 19, 2013 | Events

Bernard Harcourt, the Julius Kreeger Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Chicago and this year’s Stephen and Barbara Friedman Visiting Professor of Law at Columbia University, will present at two events on campus.

At a public lecture held on Thursday, Sept. 19, Harcourt will speak on “Bars and Digits: Liberal Democracy in the Digital Age of Security.” The lecture will commence at 4 p.m. in Room 352.  His talk will explore one of the most fundamental paradoxes of Western liberal democracy in the 21st Century: How is it that those liberal democracies that pride themselves on individual liberty and economic liberalism are the very same ones that hold the world record for persons detained behind bars and engage in forms of digital surveillance that would typically be associated with authoritarian regimes?

Then, on Friday, Sept. 20, Harcourt will conduct a seminar for faculty and graduate and professional students on “Politics and Efficiency in an Age of Security.” The seminar will be held from 10 a.m. to noon at the George Wells Knight House, Room 100 at 104 E. 15th Ave. Contact Shannon Winnubst ( for essays related to the seminar.

Harcourt’s scholarship intersects social and political theory, the sociology of punishment, political economy, and penal law and procedure. He is the author of several books, including The Illusion of Free Markets: Punishment and the Myth of Natural Order.

Both events are sponsored by the Precarity and Social Contract Working Group of the Humanities Institute, the Moritz College of Law, and the Department of Comparative Studies.