Last Updated on February 6, 2019 by Karl Thompson
An essay plan on Post/ Late Modern perspectives on crime and deviance covering the relationship between consumerism and crime (Robert Reiner), The Vertigo of Late Modernity (Jock Young), the consequences of globalisation for crime, and the rise of cyber crime, all followed by some evaluations and a conclusion.
Brief intro outlining the key ideas of Post/ Late Modernism
- Postmodern society is different to modern society – It is more consumerist, and individuals have more freedom of choice than ever before.
- Late Modernists argue that crime has changed in some fundamental ways in the age of postmodernity
Point One – Consumer society is a high crime society (Robert Reiner)
- Crime started to rise in the 1950s with the birth of consumerism
- 80% of crime is property crime, suggesting a link between the increase in materialism and the rise of crime
- Rapid crime increase became especially pronounced with the neoliberal policies of Thatcher
Point Two – The ‘Vertigo of Late Modernity’ (uncertainty) explains crime and deviance today (Jock Young)
- Postmodern life is insecure – neither jobs nor relationships are for life. These instabilities create a constant state of ‘anomie’ or meaninglessness.
- Thus people no longer find security in their jobs/ relationships, and they thus look for thrills at weekends to give their life meaning – risk taking behaviour is the norm (‘edgework’) and much crime is an outcome of this.
- Winlow’s study of night-time violence supports this, as does Katz’s work on ‘Edgework’.
Point Three – Globalisation has resulted in many new types of crime
- Postmodern culture is global – there are many new flows of money, goods, technologies and ideas which open up new opportunities for crime.
- Some of the most significant types of global crime are drug-crime, people trafficking, cybercrime and the global terrorist threat.
- One thing fuelling this is global inequality (demand and supply).
- One major consequence is the increase awareness of ‘risk consciousness’ and the increase in fear, especially because of the perceived terrorist threat.
Point Four – New Technologies open up new opportunities for crime, especially cyber-crime
- Cybercrime is one of the fastest growth areas of crime and this is global in nature.
- Fraud is one type of crime – such as the Nigerian Romance Scam.
- Cyber-stalking and harassment also seems to be more common than face to face crimes of this nature.
- Governments are also under threat from ‘cyber attacks’ from foreign powers.
|+ Society and the nature of crime do seem to have changed in recent years, so it’s worth revisiting the ‘underlying causes’
+ Better than Marxism and Feminism as these theories look at crime more generally, rather than just focussing on issues of power.
|– On closer inspection there doesn’t seem to be much new in many late-modern theories of crime – much of it just seems to be Strain Theory updated.
– These theories may be too general to be useful to anyone. If there are multiple causes of crime, which are complex and global, we have no clue what to do to control crime?!?
Conclusion – How useful are post (late) modern theories in helping us understand crime and deviance
On the plus side it is clear that the nature of crime has changed with the onset of a global, hyper-connected postmodern society.
However, we might not need a completely new batch of theories to understand these changes. Marxists, for example, would say that we can understand much global crime, and even much ‘local crime’ because of the increase in economic inequalities which are part of globalisation.