We talk a lot about fear in criminology. More precisely, we reflect on how our political, legal, economic and socio-cultural systems create conditions in which we fear certain people or certain events more than others. Fears are constructed. They determine what we criminalise or who we decide to surveil, police, judge or incarcerate. Fears can provide a cover for crime and justice responses that are racist, discriminatory and undermining of protections.
States and businesses have long been adept in mobilising fears. A catalogue of state and corporate harms – slavery, colonial violence, abuse in ‘care’, mass incarceration, repressive border controls, among other activities – has been readily operationalised, commodified and legitimised through fears of the ‘other’: the ‘aliens’, the ‘dangerous’ and the ‘monsters’. In settler-colonial New Zealand, this othering has functioned to control and violate Māori in diverse ways.
We have also repeatedly seen that when fears run high (such as following an unusual violent crime) we rush through ‘urgency’ legislation and amp up punitive powers. Policing and security are regularly over-emphasised as responses to wider social problems.
Fear-based responses largely revolve around distancing.Continue reading Fear, Crime and Justice in a Time of Pandemic