Crime in an Insecure World
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Crime in an Insecure World

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This new book by Richard Ericson explores the alarming trend across Western societies of treating every imaginable source of harm as a crime. It locates this trend in the 21st century obsession with insecurity fostered by neo-liberal governments. It is grounded in leading-edge theory and research across academic disciplines.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 188 pages
  • 143 x 215 x 15mm | 360g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0745638295
  • 9780745638294
  • 769,996

Back cover copy

Crime in an Insecure World investigates the alarming trendacross Western societies of treating every imaginable source ofharm as a crime. It locates this trend in the 21st centuryobsession with insecurity fostered by neo-liberal governments. Itexplains why selected issues of national security (threats ofterrorism), social security (benefit system integrity), corporatesecurity (liabilities for harm) and domestic security (anti-socialbehaviour) are at the top of the political agenda. It documents howthis politics of insecurity leads to enormous expenditures on riskassessment and management that ironically reveal the limits ofrisk-based reasoning and intensify uncertainty. Catastrophicimaginations are fuelled, precautionary logics become pervasive, and extreme security measures are institutionalized.

The security measures include the invention of disturbing newforms of 'counter law' or 'law againstlaw'. Counter law criminalizes not only those who actuallycause harm, but also those merely suspected of being harmful, aswell as authorities who are deemed responsible for securityfailures. Traditional principles, standards and procedures ofcriminal law are eroded or eliminated altogether, and civil andadministrative law become more salient in processes ofcriminalization. Counter law also involves the innovative expansionof surveillance technologies and networks. CCTV, smart cards, datamatching, data mining, and private policing all facilitatecriminalization of the merely suspicious and security failures.Security trumps justice, and uncertainty proves itself.

This book is grounded in leading-edge theory and research acrossacademic disciplines. It contributes to the most critical andcontested debates in 21st century politics. It is of great interestnot only to students of politics, sociology, law, criminology, riskmanagement and public policy, but also to the general reader.
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Table of contents

List of Illustrations and Figures. Acknowledgments. 1 Crime in an Insecure World. 2 National Security. 3 Social Security. 4 Corporate Security. 5 Domestic Security. 6 Insecurity. References. Index.
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Review quote

"This book makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of how nations exploit and negotiate risk. It also provides a powerful analysis of mass criminalisation across the globe and will therefore be a fascinating read for academics and for policymakers." --Simon Davies, Times Higher Education Supplement "As the title suggests, Richard Ericson's Crime in an Insecure World captures the central developments facing late modern society, all of which contribute to the decline of criminal law. Ericson delivers a deep and compelling analysis of an unraveling civil society that produces not only a culture of control but also a culture of suspicion. Written in a straightforward style, the book helps us understand how structural realignments in a neo-liberal regime shape our perceptions of crime and disorder." --Michael Welch, London School of Economics and Political Science "Crime in an Insecure World demonstrates all the virtues of clarity and scholarship that we have come to expect in Ericson's work. In this timely statement these are joined with a more urgent, morally engaged, even prophetic voice. Ericson urges us to see more clearly that our yearning for an impossible security may yet prove ruinous for our legal order, our civil society and indeed the very safety that we so crave. This powerful and cogent analysis deserves the widest possible audience." --Richard Sparks, University of Edinburgh
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About Richard V. Ericson

Richard Ericson is Professor and Director of Criminology at the University of Toronto.
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