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 5: The Disintegrating Society
The Disintegrating Society
By the end of the 1970s a whole epoch, perhaps even modernity itself, appeared to be drawing to a close. It was becoming increasingly clear that fundamental changes were occurring in the direction of development of capitalism. From the middle of the nineteenth century onwards it had appeared that, despite periodic economic recessions, massive poverty and social inequality, war and violence, capitalist development acted as a force for social consolidation. It sustained the spread of the ideas of the Enlightenment, individual liberty and human rights. It created the conditions in which the masses could demand inclusion into those rights. It built cities and stable communities. It created the conditions for the emergence of forms of integration which reduced social and ...