Governing Through Crime

Governing Through Crime : How the War on Crime Transformed American Democracy and Created a Culture of Fear

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Description

Across America today, gated communities sprawl out from urban centers, employers enforce mandatory drug testing, and schools screen students with metal detectors. Social problems ranging from welfare dependency to educational inequality have been reconceptualized as crimes, with an attendant focus on assigning fault and imposing consequences. Even before the recent terrorist attacks, non-citizen residents had become subject to an increasingly harsh regime of detention and deportation, and prospective employees subjected to background checks. How and when did our everyday world become dominated by fear, every citizen treated as a potential criminal? In this startlingly original work, Jonathan Simon traces this pattern back to the collapse of the New Deal approach to governing during the 1960s when declining confidence in expert-guided government policies sent political leaders searching for new models of governance. The War on Crime offered a ready solution to their problem: politicians set agendas by drawing analogies to crime and redefined the ideal citizen as a crime victim, one whose vulnerabilities opened the door to overweening government intervention. By the 1980s, this transformation of the core powers of government had spilled over into the institutions that govern daily life. Soon our schools, our families, our workplaces, and our residential communities were being governed through crime. This powerful work concludes with a call for passive citizens to become engaged partners in the management of risk and the treatment of social ills. Only by coming together to produce security, can we free ourselves from a logic of domination by others, and from the fear that currently rules our everyday life.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 344 pages
  • 154.94 x 233.68 x 25.4mm | 498.95g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • black & white illustrations
  • 0195386019
  • 9780195386011
  • 405,161

Review quote

"Ambitious and carefully reasoned... thought-provoking... argues that what sociologists are calling "mass imprisonment" (because such a large portion of the population is now involved) signals not only a new approach to managing crime, but to managing society... The most innovative sections of his book, however, outline how an increasingly insular, risk averse, and punitive social ethic has reshaped not only how the other half lives but how the top half does as well."--Boston Review"Every thoughtful citizen should confront the arguments that are so lucidly presented in this book. Highly recommended." --CHOICE"In Governing through Crime, Jonathan Simon powerfully and persuasively argues that America's obsession with crime has touched, indeed distorted, the fundamental building blocks of our democratic society. According to this sweeping analysis, our conception of the centrality of crime in American life has redefined the powers of government, the role of families and schools, and the place of the individual in society. This disturbing and provocative treatise should command the attention of scholars, opinion leaders, and policymakers who aspire to create a more tolerant and open future for this country."--Jeremy Travis, President, John Jay College of Criminal Justice"For historians, this book will one day be a valuable primary source."--Law and History Review"Distinguished legal scholar Jonathan Simon here challenges us to confront the consequences for liberal democracy of the move in the U.S. towards the exercise of ever more executive authority--from the presidency and the institutions of state through schools and families. Governing through Crime, argues Simon with unrelenting cogency, is a response to risk and fear spun out of control, a response that erodes social trust and, with it, the very scaffolding of a 'free' society. An invaluable addition to the literature in critical criminology, this is a volume that ought to be read by anyone who seeks to understand the present and future of governance in the USA--and elsewhere."--John Comaroff, Harold H. Swift Distinguished Service Professor, University of Chicago"Jonathan Simon has pioneered a new approach to the study of the politics of crime control, and this book should confirm his place as one of the outstanding criminologists of his generation. Governing through Crime, is a major contribution and deserves to make an impact throughout the social and political sciences."--Nikolas Rose, Martin White Professor, London School of Economics and Political Science"This is an impressive work. The book's great strength is its integration of a wide range of research on political science, law, and sociology, with journalistic accounts of current and recent politics. Topics from mass imprisonment, school "zero tolerance" policies, and the shortcomings of the Supreme Court in achieving the goals of Brown v. Board of Education have all been written about extensively. But I know of no other work that so effectively uncovers ways that these issues are connected to a changing relationship between citizens and their government."--The Law and Politics Book Review"What makes Simon's work stand out is his treatment of how the government's configuration of the crime problem, with its strong emphasis on 'personal responsibility and will over social context' (p.25) and its penchant for punishment of individuals, has penetrated other institutional spheres of American life, notably work, school, and family life... His book stands out as the most important and most readable treatment to date on the overreach of crime and our emergence, in part, as a society gripped by the language of crime and the technologies of criminal justice."--Political Science Quarterly "Ambitious and carefully reasoned... thought-provoking... argues that what sociologists are calling "mass imprisonment" (because such a large portion of the population is now involved) signals not only a new approach to managing crime, but to managing society... The most innovative sections of his book, however, outline how an increasingly insular, risk averse, and punitive social ethic has reshaped not only how the other half lives but how the top half does as well."--Boston Review"Every thoughtful citizen should confront the arguments that are so lucidly presented in this book. Highly recommended." --CHOICE"In Governing through Crime, Jonathan Simon powerfully and persuasively argues that America's obsession with crime has touched, indeed distorted, the fundamental building blocks of our democratic society. According to this sweeping analysis, our conception of the centrality of crime in American life has redefined the powers of government, the role of families and schools, and the place of the individual in society. This disturbing and provocative treatise should command the attention of scholars, opinion leaders, and policymakers who aspire to create a more tolerant and open future for this country."--Jeremy Travis, President, John Jay College of Criminal Justice"For historians, this book will one day be a valuable primary source."--Law and History Review"Distinguished legal scholar Jonathan Simon here challenges us to confront the consequences for liberal democracy of the move in the U.S. towards the exercise of ever more executive authority--from the presidency and the institutions of state through schools and families. Governing through Crime, argues Simon with unrelenting cogency, is a response to risk and fear spun out of control, a response that erodes social trust and, with it, the very scaffolding of a 'free' society. An invaluable addition to the literature in critical criminology, this is a volume that ought to be read by anyone who seeks to understand the present and future of governance in the USA--and elsewhere."--John Comaroff, Harold H. Swift Distinguished Service Professor, University of Chicago"Jonathan Simon has pioneered a new approach to the study of the politics of crime control, and this book should confirm his place as one of the outstanding criminologists of his generation. Governing through Crime, is a major contribution and deserves to make an impact throughout the social and political sciences."--Nikolas Rose, Martin White Professor, London School of Economics and Political Science"This is an impressive work. The book's great strength is its integration of a wide range of research on political science, law, and sociology, with journalistic accounts of current and recent politics. Topics from mass imprisonment, school "zero tolerance" policies, and the shortcomings of the Supreme Court in achieving the goals of Brown v. Board of Education have all been written about extensively. But I know of no other work that so effectively uncovers ways that these issues are connected to a changing relationship between citizens and their government."--The Law and Politics Book Review"What makes Simon's work stand out is his treatment of how the government's configuration of the crime problem, with its strong emphasis on 'personal responsibility and will over social context' (p.25) and its penchant for punishment of individuals, has penetrated other institutional spheres of American life, notably work, school, and family life... His book stands out as the most important and most readable treatment to date on the overreach of crime and our emergence, in part, as a society gripped by the language of crime and the technologies of criminal justice."--Political Science Quarterly "A powerful and disturbing polemic against the dominant trends in crime control across the USA today.There is little doubt that this book will become a seminal text helping to shape the contemporary criminological imagination..." -Theoretical Criminology"Every thoughtful citizen should confront the arguments that are so lucidly presented in this book. Highly recommended."-CHOICE"For historians, this book will one day be a valuable primary source."-Law and History Review"This is an impressive work. The book's great strength is its integration of a wide range of research on political science, law, and sociology, with journalistic accounts of current and recent politics. Topics from mass imprisonment, school "zero tolerance" policies, and the shortcomings of the Supreme Court in achieving the goals of Brown v. Board of Education have all been written about extensively. But I know of no other work that so effectively uncovers ways that these issues are connected to a changi "A powerful and disturbing polemic against the dominant trends in crime control across the USA today.There is little doubt that this book will become a seminal text helping to shape the contemporary criminological imagination..." -Theoretical Criminology "Every thoughtful citizen should confront the arguments that are so lucidly presented in this book. Highly recommended."-CHOICE "For historians, this book will one day be a valuable primary source."-Law and History Review "This is an impressive work. The book's great strength is its integration of a wide range of research on political science, law, and sociology, with journalistic accounts of current and recent politics. Topics from mass imprisonment, school "zero tolerance" policies, and the shortcomings of the Supreme Court in achieving the goals of Brown v. Board of Education have all been written about extensively. But I know of no other work that so effectively uncovers ways that these issues are connected to a changing relationship between citizens and their government."-The Law and Politics Book Reviewshow more

About Professor Jonathan Simon

Jonathan Simon is Associate Dean of Jurisprudence and Social Policy and Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley. He is co-editor of the journal Punishment & Society, and is the author of Poor Discipline: Parole and the Social Control of the Underclass, 1890-1990 and co-editor of two other volumes.show more

Table of contents

1. Power, Authority, and the Criminal Law ; 2. "Prosecutor-in-chief": Executive Authority since the War on Crime ; 3. We the Victims: Fearing Crime and Making Law ; 4. Judgment and Distrust: The Jurisprudence of Crime and the Decline of Judicial Governance ; 5. Project Exile: Race, the War on Crime, and Mass Imprisonment ; 5. Project Exile: Race, the War on Crime, and Mass Imprisonment ; 5. Project Exile: Race, the War on Crime, and Mass Imprisonment ; 6. Crime Families: Governing Domestic Relations Through Crime ; 7. Safe Schools: Reforming Education Through Crime ; 8. Penalty Box: Crime, Victimization, and Punishment in the Deregulated Workplace ; 9. Wars of Governance: From Cancer to Crime to Terrorshow more

Rating details

61 ratings
3.75 out of 5 stars
5 21% (13)
4 39% (24)
3 34% (21)
2 3% (2)
1 2% (1)
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