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Criminology: Theories and Perspectives - Essay Example

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By its very nature, the study of environmental harm raises issues pertaining to the proper domains of criminology as a field of inquiry. The actual interplay between civil and criminal remedies warrants close attention, as it represents attempts to deal with substantive issues through measures across a range of regulatory areas (Gunningham et al., 1995).
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Criminology: Theories and Perspectives
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Download file to see previous pages Major issues relating to environmental harm include its definition in criminological terms and the nature of responses to such harm. The politics of definition are complicated by the politics of “denial,” in which particular concrete manifestations of social injury and environmental damage are obfuscated, ignored, or redefined in ways that re-present them as being of little relevance to academic criminological study or state criminal justice intervention. Similar to the denial of human rights violations, environmental issues call forth a range of neutralization techniques on the part of nation-states and corporations that ultimately legitimate and justify certain types of environmentally unfriendly activities.
The recent emergence of “environmental criminology” has been marked by efforts to re-conceptualize the nature of “harm” more inclusively, to expose instances of substantive environmental injustice and ecological injustice, and to critique the actions of nation-states and transnational capital for fostering particular types of harm and for failing to adequately address or regulate harmful activity. Drawing upon a wide range of ideas and empirical materials, recent work on environmental harm has documented the existence of lawbreaking with respect to pollution, the disposal of toxic waste, and misuse of environmental resources. It has raised questions related to the destruction of specific environments and resources, in ways that are "legal" but ecologically disastrous. It has emphasized the dynamic links between the distribution of environmental "risk" (particularly as it affects poor and minority populations) and the claims of nonhuman nature to ecological justice. Environmental criminology has focused on aspects of offending and criminalization, as well as the nature of victimization, including social and governmental responses to this victimization (Williams, 1996).
The study of environmental harm is limited to a relatively small number of people within the wider criminological community. Although such issues are beginning to receive more attention, recognition of their importance within the field generally, and sustained conceptual and empirical investigation, are still in their formative phases. Though the eclecticism of much environmental criminology signifies openness to ideas and information from a wide range of sources, such work must be grounded in an explicit political and economic framework. The liberal-pluralist sentiment evident in the area belies the need to clarify the key structures of contemporary life that provide the organizing principles underpinning the exploitation of human and nonhuman nature alike. Analysis of particular instances of harm (and regulation), for example, must be understood in the context of wider structural parameters that effectively shape the nature and processes associated with such harm. Examination of the contours of contemporary
Capitalism is essential to this task.
Feminist Criminology
Feminist perspectives, over the past thirty years have not only put some new topics under the criminological cover, they have challenged the theories, concepts, methods and assumptions of most of the people already involved in the study of crime. Theories of criminality have been developed from male subjects and validated on male subjects. Whilst there is nothing wrong with this, the problem is that these theories have been extended generally to include all criminals, defendants and prisoners. It was assumed that the theories would apply to women; most do not appear to do so (Gelsthorpe and Morris, 1990: xii-8).
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