SOC316H5 Chapter Notes -Gated Community, Juvenile Delinquency, Moral Panic

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Published on 10 Apr 2014
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Chapter 6 Crime Complex: the Culture of High Crime Societies
Policies that have emerged over the last few decades have their roots in a new collective experience of
crime and insecurity, an experience that is itself structured by the distinctive social, economic and cultural
arrangements of late modernity.
Policies depend on political transformation and representation, and possibility and popularity based off of
extra-political conditions (social routines and cultural sensibilities) which make the policies possible and
desirable.
Crime-control strategies are developed, argued for, and legislated in the political realm, so commentary
typically focuses on political process and the interests and ideologies involved.
Need to understand the shifts in the extra-political conditions (social context) in order to understand the
policies’ context, timing, and popular appeal.
Politics and policies involve choice and decision-making and possibility of acting otherwise.
Background conditions increase probability that policies with possibility will occur.
UK and USA, crime-control field has 2 new, distinct patterns of action:
1. Adaptive strategy: stresses prevention and partnership
2. Sovereign state strategy: stresses enhanced control and expressive punishment
-These strategies differ from preceding penal-welfare policies, which fell into disrepute
-Arose due to new problem of high rates of crime which became a normal social fact
-Seen as CJS had failed to deliver adequate security
-Politicians adapted to problem by focusing on effects, not causes, of crime
-State withdrew as primary security provider; remodeled crime-control as a dispersed, partnership,
where state works through, not upon, civil society and promotes prevention
-Hybrid organizations form and redefining of existing agencies (police, probation, prisons) occurs
Government officials are ambivalent of strategies and retreat from their implications  deny problem,
resulting in intense policing and punishment.
Preventative partnership: the effort to share responsibility for crime control and build a crime prevention
infrastructure beyond the state
-Problem = preconditions; not high profile, don’t need electoral support
-Private actors and organizations: appearance of new habits & routines
-State and non-state agencies coordinate their practices to prevent crime and enhance community
safety through reduction of opportunities and extension of crime-consciousness
oHousing, transport, planning, education, and social work
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oBusiness Improvement Districts, crime prevention panels, neighborhood watch
-New ways of thinking & acting: criminological assumptions (new criminologist of everyday life);
style of governance: responsibilization, governing-at-a-distance; repertoire of techniques and
knowledges
Punitive segregation: new reliance upon measures, especially incapacitative imprisonment, designed to
punish and exclude
-Key question relates to cultural and social support
-Highly politicized policy and needs support to operate
-Actual measures (mandatory sentences, mass imprisonment, and penal marking) don’t require
new ways of thinking/acting but require a level of political and public support
-Political actors’ form of denial and acting out
Where do these strategies come from? What are their historical conditions of existence? From what
sources do they derive their social support and cultural resonance?
The Strategy of Punitive Segregation
-Harsher sentencing, increased imprisonment, mandatory minimums, parole release restrictions,
retribution in juvenile court, imprisonment of children, corporal punishment, boot camps,
supermax prisons, pedophile registers, zero-tolerance policies
-Today’s punitive policies have distinguishing features which are shaped by the late modern social
context from which they emerge:
1. These measures engage in an expressive mode of actions but evince a simultaneous
instrumental logic – each operates on 2 different registers: an expressive, punitive scale that
uses the symbols of condemnation and suffering to communicate its message; and an
instrumental register attuned to public protection and risk management.
oPolicy concern today is neither purely punitive nor purely about public protection –
today: public be protected and its sentiments expressed
oPenal segregation is increasingly the choice
2. Measures are populist and politicized – policies privilege public opinion over experts, who
are increasingly disenfranchised, and are formulated by political committees and advisors,
announced in political settings, and are under-researched
3. A privileged place is given to victims, which is politicized rather than focusing on victims’
interests/opinions. New measures utilized idea of ‘victim’ for support and legitimacy. Victims
are seen accompanying American politicians when new laws or measures are imposed. Any
support, compassion, or efforts to humanize punishments for offenders is seen as an insult to
victims and their families. Crime victim is seen as representative character whose experience
is assumed to be common and collective, rather than individual and atypical. Suffering is
presented through the media, from where the public’s fears and anger are raised, effects of
identification are produced, and reinforcement turns them into the political realm. The center
of penal discourse is a political projection of the individual victim and his/her feelings.
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Document Summary

Chapter 6 crime complex: the culture of high crime societies. Policies that have emerged over the last few decades have their roots in a new collective experience of crime and insecurity, an experience that is itself structured by the distinctive social, economic and cultural arrangements of late modernity. Policies depend on political transformation and representation, and possibility and popularity based off of extra-political conditions (social routines and cultural sensibilities) which make the policies possible and desirable. Crime-control strategies are developed, argued for, and legislated in the political realm, so commentary typically focuses on political process and the interests and ideologies involved. Need to understand the shifts in the extra-political conditions (social context) in order to understand the policies" context, timing, and popular appeal. Politics and policies involve choice and decision-making and possibility of acting otherwise. Background conditions increase probability that policies with possibility will occur.

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