Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Communities, identities and crime

Communities, identities and crime

Basia Spalek
Copyright Date: 2008
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Communities, identities and crime
    Book Description:

    Communities, identities and crime provides a critical exploration of the importance of social identities when considering crime, victimisation and criminal justice. Offering a refreshing perspective on equality and diversity developments that feature in the policies and practices of criminal justice agencies, the author critically examines: 'race' relations legislation, 'race' equality and criminal justice gender, crime and victimisation the increasing role that faith communities play in community justice hate crimes committed against individuals, motivated by prejudice community engagement and participation in criminal justice, community cohesion and civil renewal. The book incorporates a broader theoretical focus, exploring identity theory, late modernity, identity constructions, communities and belongingness. The author also raises important theoretical and methodological issues that a focus upon social identities poses for the subject discipline of criminology. Clearly written in an engaging style, with case studies and chapter questions used throughout, the book is essential reading for postgraduate students of criminology, criminal justice, social policy, sociology, victimology and law. Undergraduate students and criminal justice practitioners will also find the book informative and researchers will value its theoretical and policy focus.

    eISBN: 978-1-84742-958-2
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. iii-iii)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. iv-iv)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    This book is very much a product of contemporary theorising and discussion about the social and cultural processes taking place in liberal democratic societies. Many writers have attempted to capture the social, economic and cultural dynamics of contemporary western society, using words like risk, anxiety and uncertainty to describe a time of huge transformation from an earlier post-war ‘Golden Age’ of increasing affluence and full employment in Europe and North America. It is argued that social identities have become increasingly problematic and contestable in contemporary western society because traditional social affiliations, based on family or social class, have been increasingly...

  5. ONE Social identities in late modernity: offender and victim identity constructions
    (pp. 11-36)

    The subject of the construction of social identity in contemporary western societies is a growing area of research interest. Conceptualising today’s society as late modernity, fluid modernity or postmodernity (amongst other signifiers), researchers argue that social identities have become increasingly problematic and contestable as a result of the demise of the so-called ‘Golden Age’ of post-war Europe and North America of full employment and rising affluence, together with the emergence of uncertainty, risk and insecurity with a concomitant questioning of, and focus upon, identity as a source of meaning (Beck, 1992; Lyon, 1999; Young, 1999; Bauman, 2000).

    Unsurprisingly, therefore, numerous...

  6. TWO Equality and diversity agendas in criminal justice
    (pp. 37-60)

    Within the public sectors of western democratic societies like the UK, the US, Canada and Australia, substantial research attention and policy focus is generated by questions concerning equality and diversity. This is perhaps unsurprising, given that contemporary western societies are characterised by inequality (Thompson, 1998) and, moreover, are underpinned by modernity’s ‘imperative of order’ with the concomitant belief that, with the application of the correct kinds of policies and procedures, progress can be made in relation to eliminating/reducing inequalities and oppression.

    In the UK, in contrast to the US and Canada where human rights legislation has generally produced a more...

  7. THREE Researching identities and communities: key epistemological, methodological and ethical dilemmas
    (pp. 61-82)

    The issue of whether a focus upon identities can help us to understand the social world is one that has generated considerable attention. If, as suggested in Chapter One, social identities are fluid and forever changing, so that the narratives that people tell about themselves will only ever be partial and contingent upon broader social, cultural, political and historical factors (Imtoual, 2006), then how valid is the notion of social identity as a tool through which to accumulate knowledge about social phenomena? Hall (1995: 66; 1996) conceptualises identities as sliding; however, at the same time he argues that identities are...

  8. FOUR Communities and criminal justice: engaging legitimised, project and resistance identities
    (pp. 83-104)

    The notion of ‘community’ features significantly in criminal justice policy and practice. Underpinned by the principle of ‘active citizenship’, whereby individuals are encouraged to volunteer their services, to participate in and contribute to civil society, communities are viewed as an important resource for tackling crime and incivility, by working with local criminal justice organisations, as well as other statutory and voluntary sector organisations. Reflecting the importance that community involvement in helping to respond to crime and disorder is given by government, ‘community participation’, ‘community engagement’ and ‘community scrutiny of performance’ feature significantly in criminal justice policy and practice.

    The emphasis...

  9. FIVE Gender, crime, and criminal justice
    (pp. 105-130)

    Gender in relation to crime, victimisation and criminal justice has stimulated much research interest and policy attention. Empirical evidence appears to show that sex is a key variable in relation to criminality, with most crimes being committed by men, and certainly with serious and violent crimes being predominantly carried out by men. Much debate has therefore been generated regarding women’s criminality, whether the empirical evidence can be taken at face value or whether perhaps other processes are at play that serve to conceal women’s true criminality. For example, some commentators have suggested that the crimes that women commit do not...

  10. SIX ‘Race’, crime and criminal justice
    (pp. 131-160)

    Issues in relation to ‘race’ and racism have generated substantial, and ever-growing, interest from and within a multitude of academic, policy and research contexts. Within criminological and criminal justice arenas, issues in relation to ‘race’/ethnicity have attracted much attention, particularly in the aftermath of the Macpherson Inquiry into the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence, which found the police service to be ‘institutionally racist’.

    The over-representation of Black people in prison, particularly those of African/Caribbean heritage, has generated much research attention, under the so-called ‘race and crime’ debate. Here, questions have been raised about Black people’s offending rates and any discriminatory...

  11. SEVEN Faith identities, crime and criminal justice
    (pp. 161-188)

    As illustrated in the previous two chapters, gender and ‘race’/ethnic identities have, over the last three decades or so, attracted much research attention, lying at the forefront of criminological enquiry. This chapter will look at faith identities in relation to crime, victimisation and criminal justice, suggesting that religious identities are increasingly featuring in criminological discourse, as well as in criminal justice policy and practice. The significance of these developments must not be understated, as the inclusion of faith identities/communities in research, policy and practice not only heralds new areas of enquiry and new modes of engagement with communities, but, moreover,...

  12. EIGHT Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities: crime, victimisation and criminal justice
    (pp. 189-206)

    The experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities in relation to crime, criminal justice and victimisation have traditionally been marginalised by policy makers and researchers, reflecting the bias towards heterosexuality that dominates western society, whereby same-sex desire has often been viewed through the lens of deviance. Nonetheless, LGBT communities have attracted some research and policy concern, particularly in relation to their experiences of hate crime and domestic violence, this work illustrating that hate crime and domestic violence are significant issues for LGBT minority groups and that, moreover, while there are similarities between the experiences of LGBT communities and...

  13. NINE Ageing, disability, criminology and criminal justice
    (pp. 207-224)

    Two further minority groupings that have traditionally been marginalised by criminologists are those consisting of older people, and people with disabilities. In criminology, there is a tendency to focus upon the experiences of young people, particularly as offenders, although some research in relation to the fear of crime and victimisation has included a consideration of older people. On the other hand, disabled people who experience crime have been labelled ‘invisible victims’ because crimes committed against these individuals are often hidden and not reported to agencies of the criminal justice system. Disability in relation to crime is a developing research area,...

  14. Conclusion
    (pp. 225-228)

    The subject of social identity in contemporary western societies is an area that has received considerable research interest. While traditionally class, gender and ‘race’/ethnic identities have generated substantial social scientific research attention, other group collectivities are now receiving greater focus, specifically those relating to sexual orientation, religion, disability and age. At the same time, work on identities includes a focus upon the construction of self in late modernity since it is argued that increasing individualisation means that human identity is a task under continual construction.Communities, identities and crimeillustrates how the construction of social identities might best be conceptualised...

  15. Index
    (pp. 229-241)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 242-242)