The New Criminology: For a Social Theory of Deviance

The New Criminology: For a Social Theory of Deviance

The New Criminology: For a Social Theory of Deviance

The New Criminology: For a Social Theory of Deviance

Excerpt

If any single book can succeed in making ‘criminology’ intellectually serious, as distinct from professionally respectable, then this study, remarkable for its combination of the analytical with the historical, will do it. It is perhaps the first truly comprehensive critique that we have ever had of the totality, of past and contemporary, of European and American, studies of ‘crime’ and ‘deviance’. It is as meticulous in its treatment of the obscure, unknown theorist as it is of the most fashionable, probing both with a catholic seriousness. It is a critique, again remarkable, for the sure manner in which it combines the craftsmen’s grasp of fine-grained detail with a philosophical horizon and reflexivity. As a result, the technical detail never operates within the merely conventional limits of what is worth speaking about, while the philosophical depth does not feed only on itself but also becomes a dwelling place for someone else’s world.

The reorienting power of this work, and it is a work of power whose achievement does not depend upon merely marginal distinctions, derives from its ability to demonstrate that all studies of crime and deviance, however deeply entrenched in their own technical traditions, are inevitably also grounded in larger, more general social theories which are always present (and consequential) even as unspoken silences. What this important study does, then, is this: it redirects the total structure of technical discourse concerning ‘crime’ and ‘deviance’; it does this precisely by breaking this silence, by speaking what is normally unspoken by technicians, by launching a deliberate discourse concerning the general, social theory usually only tacit in specialized work in crime and deviance; by exhibiting explicitly the linkages between technical detail and the most basic philosophical positions.

Very rarely, if ever, have crime and deviance studies been subjected to a critique and excavation which is at once comprehensively . . .

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