Source: (2000) Punishment & Society. 2(4): 417-439.Over the course of the last decade or so, it has become increasingly apparent that modern penality is undergoing significant change. One aspect of this refiguring of the penal spectrum involves a growing recourse to what I refer to as emotive and ostentatious punishments of varying kinds – although this must be set against the enhanced continuity at the same time of a long-established trend towards bureaucratic rationalism in this area. The article draws on the theoretical constructs of Norbert Elias to explain this refiguring, arguing that what we can now see taking place in the penal arena is a decivilizing interruption in various localized sites to the broader continuity of the civilizing process. Author's abstract.