Crime control is in crisis. Not only have levels of crime risen but, more important, crime is increasingly regarded as a normal aspect of the social and economic system rather than disruption or deviance. The blurring boundaries between the criminal and the normal are evident in a number of areas from the activities of multinational corporations to the life of the inner city.
In this book, John Lea develops a broad historical and sociological overview relating the rise and fall of effective crime control to different types of social structures. It traces the process of modernisation and industrialisation from the eighteenth to the mid twentieth centuries which established the social preconditions for effective control and management of criminality. In the early years of the present century it is clear that these preconditions are now being progressively undermined as industrial society undergoes profound changes in its direction of development. The result is traced through a variety of types of criminality and the progressive debilitation of existing institutions and processes of crime control.
A major feature of this book is its wide scope and imaginative application of historical and theoretical perspectives on modernisation and capitalist social development to the contemporary problems of controlling a wide variety of crime. It represents a significant contribution to the ability of criminology and the sociology of crime to confront the dilemmas and controversies of the twenty first century
Chapter 2: Modernisation and Crime Control
Modernisation and Crime Control
The previous chapter described how in modern society criminalisation involved a set of social relations and roles which secured the position of the state, the criminal justice agencies, as the source of legitimate remedy for interpersonal conflicts and harms. The dependence of criminalisation upon the working of the social relations of crime control, obvious as it may seem to any criminologist, lawyer or police officer with a minimal sociological imagination, has important implications. The first is that crime is not a form of action which exists prior to the institutions and social relations which deal with it. Abolitionists are right to insist that, on the contrary, we have ‘crime’ because we have criminal justice systems. It needs to ...