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  • Author or Editor: Basia Spalek x
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Communities, identities and crime provides a critical exploration of the importance of social identities when considering crime, victimisation and criminal justice.

Offering a refreshing perspective on equality and diversity developments that feature in the policies and practices of criminal justice agencies, the author critically examines:

‘race’ relations legislation, ‘race’ equality and criminal justice gender, crime and victimisation the increasing role that faith communities play in community justice hate crimes committed against individuals, motivated by prejudice community engagement and participation in criminal justice, community cohesion and civil renewal.

The book incorporates a broader theoretical focus, exploring identity theory, late modernity, identity constructions, communities and belongingness. The author also raises important theoretical and methodological issues that a focus upon social identities poses for the subject discipline of criminology.

Clearly written in an engaging style, with case studies and chapter questions used throughout, the book is essential reading for postgraduate students of criminology, criminal justice, social policy, sociology, victimology and law. Undergraduate students and criminal justice practitioners will also find the book informative and researchers will value its theoretical and policy focus.

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Challenging marginalisation
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A growing number of people are claiming or reclaiming a religious or spiritual identity for themselves. Yet, in contemporary Western societies, the frameworks of understanding that have developed within the social science disciplines, and which are used to analyse data, are secular in nature, and so may be inappropriate for investigating some aspects of religion, spirituality and faith and how these intersect with individuals’ lives.

This edited collection addresses important theoretical and methodological issues to explore ways of engaging with religion and spirituality when carrying out social science research. Divided into three sections, the book examines the notion of secularism in relation to contemporary western society, including a focus upon secularisation; explores how the values underpinning social scientific enquiry might serve to marginalise religion and spirituality; and reflects on social science research methodologies when researching religion and spirituality.

With international contributions from key academics in the fields of religious studies, cultural studies, political science, criminology, sociology, health and social policy, this engaging book will provide social science students, educators, researchers and practitioners with an essential overview of key debates around secularism, faith, spirituality and social science research.

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This chapter examines the relevance of identity formations for criminology and their significance in a criminal justice context. Conceptualising today’s society as late modernity, it argues that when writing about the nature of social identities in contemporary western society, it is important to consider the interplay, tensions and contradictions between modernity’s ‘imperative of order’, including the expression of collective identities and interests, and the fragmentation, individualisation and fluidity of identities associated with conditions of late modernity. It also suggests that within a criminal justice context, the identities of both offenders and victims are relevant, as are identities in relation to gender, ‘race’/ethnicity, religion/spirituality, sexual orientation, disability and ageing. Turning specifically to a criminal justice and community safety context, the chapter shows how the subject of identities is relevant in many ways. Finally, it provides a few examples of the ways in which identity is socially constructed and enacted within prisons.

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This chapter discusses equality legislation, policy and practice in the United Kingdom, particularly in a criminal justice context. It argues that in many instances, there continue to be differences in the level of protection afforded to different social groupings with respect to gender, ‘race’/ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, disability and age. However, contemporary policy developments suggest that hierarchies of equality provisions are being levelled out so that there is growing harmonisation of protections afforded to different groupings. Furthermore, at the same time that policies are being targeted at a wide range of group collectivities, there is a growing sense of the artificially constructed nature of these collectivities. Therefore, there is also a search for more nuanced methods and approaches in relation to promoting equality and documenting diversity, which might acknowledge specificities of experience. These developments suggest that alongside the modernist agenda underpinning equality and diversity strategies, postmodern processes are also at play, involving the fragmentation of social identities.

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This chapter explores some key methodological questions, including ethical ones, when researching communities and when focusing upon identities as a way of understanding the social world. Crime and criminal justice constitute the background context to the issues raised here. The chapter argues that researchers, whilst documenting specificity of experience, and acknowledging differences between people, should not lose sight of power relations that generate and reproduce inequalities and injustices. Thus, discourses that claim no knowledge beyond that which is local and situated cannot challenge forms of social organisation that are unjust, and localisms do not produce discourses that are absent of power, as power is inherent to all knowledge claims, no matter how nomadic they may be. First, some of the important questions raised by the subject of social identities are discussed. A social ontology of fragmentation alongside political engagement is then considered. The chapter concludes by suggesting a research approach that has a deep commitment to ethics based on self-reflexivity and a critical engagement with those oppressive structures to which one’s own identities can be linked.

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This chapter looks at the notion of community with respect to the criminal justice and community safety sectors. It highlights how an emphasis upon community participation in criminal justice reflects broader developments in governance, whereby responsibility and accountability for crime is increasingly concentrated at local levels, whilst at the same time centralised control in terms of resources and target-setting is maintained. Furthermore, this comprises a form of institutional reflection that involves criminal justice institutions opening themselves up to the communities that they serve, with the lay public engaging with, as well as critiquing, rival forms of expertise. The chapter also discusses community representation within criminal justice and how community participation helps to create and sustain legitimised identities. Finally, it argues that despite the significant challenges that engagement with resistance identities (and indeed project identities) raises, it is important to stress that engagement should be actively pursued by government as a way of reducing further entrenchment and separation.

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This chapter examines gender in relation to crime, victimisation and criminal justice. It argues that apparently neutral, objective scientific research, when applied to women, is actually underpinned by sexist assumptions. As a result, feminist researchers have challenged gender-biased distortions by using the voices of female offenders and by concentrating upon their experiences to provide a more accurate picture of women offenders. At the same time, feminist work has questioned some of the male-orientated assumptions underpinning traditional victimological work, which has led to women’s behaviour being judged and implicated in the crimes that have been committed against them. This chapter also highlights how researchers, policy makers, and practitioners increasingly acknowledge diversity amongst women, and discusses criminal justice responses to sexual and domestic violence. In particular, it considers legal changes to the issue of consent in cases of rape, along with the implementation of initiatives aimed at supporting victims of domestic and sexual violence. Finally, it looks at community safety issues and women’s fear of crime and the management of their personal safety.

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This chapter focuses on ‘race’ and ethnicity in relation to crime and criminal justice. It looks at the difficulties involved when collecting data about ‘race’, arguing that this is a social construct influenced by historical, social and political contexts that attach particular labels to particular groups of individuals at particular points in time. It also examines other issues including institutional racism, racist victimisation, and knowledge claims arising from Black, Asian and ethnic minorities, and how these need to be legitimised when a scientific paradigm holds sway within policy-making circles. Moreover, this chapter explores how the application, and predominance, of a (social) scientific approach to ‘race’ is problematic when viewed from a perspective that actively engages with, and acknowledges, the harms caused under the guise of Enlightenment philosophy. Finally, it considers the issue of racial discrimination in the criminal justice system.

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This chapter explores faith identities in relation to crime, victimisation, and criminal justice, suggesting that religious identities are increasingly featuring in criminological communities, identities and crime discourse, as well as in criminal justice policy and practice. It argues that a focus upon faith identities can lead to the adoption of innovative research techniques and theoretical frameworks of enquiry. However, this work carries with it the potential of being delegitimised due to the predominance of secularism within contemporary western society, whereby an artificially constructed binary opposition of secular/sacred serves to place work that includes a focus on the sacred into the category of the deviant Other. The chapter views faith communities as an important resource for tackling crime and incivility, and indeed for helping to undermine terrorism, through working in partnership with various statutory agencies. It also highlights some key areas for criminology and the criminal justice/community safety fields when taking into consideration faith identities. As a starting point, the key terms religion, religiosity and spirituality are discussed.

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This chapter looks at the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities in relation to crime, criminal justice and victimisation, as these people have traditionally been marginalised by policy makers and researchers. It argues that when considering LGBT minority experiences, it is important to consider the oppositional binary heterosexual/homosexual that is said to underpin western society, casting same-sex desire into the category of the Other, the delegitimised. Not only have LGBT minorities had to struggle against scientific medical constructions of sexuality that represent any kind of sexual orientation that lies outside of heterosexuality as pathological, abnormal and unnatural; they also had to challenge the institutions of heterosexuality, marriage, and family, for example, for oppressing them. The gay and lesbian liberation movements have constituted a critique of mainstream discourses that view homosexuality as perverse, and have reacted against institutions of heterosexuality that oppress those forms of sexual orientation that lie outside heterosexism. This chapter also discusses knowledge claims arising from LGBT communities and the challenges that these identities pose for criminological knowledge production.

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