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Criminology through the looking-glass

Criminology through the looking-glass

Chapter:
(p.15) 1 Criminology through the looking-glass
Source:
Law in Popular Belief
Author(s):
Colin Sumner
Publisher:
Manchester University Press
DOI:10.7228/manchester/9780719097836.003.0002

This chapter examines the ways in which it might be wiser to look at criminology in reverse. Not only do the rich get richer and the poor get prison, as Reiman's famous book title suggests, but the law would appear to operate in such a way that the crimes of the rich are the ones causing the greatest social harm yet receiving the weakest social censure, whilst the crimes of the poor and young cause the least social harm yet receive the greatest social censure. This is the stuff of a through-the-looking-glass Jabberwocky criminology whose reverse message can only be read by holding it up to the mirror. This chapter assesses whether this strange criminology can be explained by the analysis of mimesis and the mimetic double bind in the work of Renee Girard, or whether the phenomenon is better seen as an inevitable reflection of the roots of dominant social censures within dominant and contradictory social relations.

Keywords:   criminology, social censure, class, power, social relations

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