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Critical Criminology

, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp 331–350 | Cite as

Critical Criminology Meets Radical Constructivism

  • Nicolas Carrier
Article

Abstract

Critical criminology and radical constructivism are frequently regarded as an impossible pair—or, at least, as a rather schizophrenic one. This is so, notably, because radical constructivism rests on the (paradoxical) abandonment of what Jean-François Lyotard named méta-récits. It rests on the refusal to distinguish between the phenomenal and the symbolic, and thus implies the complete vanishing of the classical difference between ontology and epistemology. This would consequently deprive criminology (or, more generally, the social sciences) of any anchoring point enabling a critical utterance. The present contribution’s thesis is that, on the contrary, radical constructivism can catalyze critical criminology. Among the possible contributions of a radically constructivist sociology of criminalization, this paper focuses on: its call for a reworking of the concept of social control, which avoids problems related to its contemporary usage; its focus on power and force, in a way which avoids Foucaultian perspectives’ aporetic elements, and problematizes every instance of legitimized authoritarian practices.

Keywords

Social Control Language Game Critical Criminology Harm Principle Radical Constructivism 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgments

This article builds on a presentation given at the congress Le pénal aujourd’hui : pérennité ou mutations? I would like to thank Renée Zauberman for inviting me to speak at this congress, which was closed by a celebration of the 30th anniversary of the academic journal Déviance & Société. This journal has been, over the last three decades, the principal vehicle for the development of critical research and scholarly debates in the (relatively) small Francophone criminological realm. One might say that this journal has been one highly influential media in the very production of most critical criminologists in Belgium, France and in French-speaking enclaves of Canada. Sadly enough, a real dialogue between Francophone and Anglophone criminologies has yet to be established. I would also like to thank scholars who commented on various versions of this paper: Jean-François Cauchie, Gilles Chantraine, Richard Dubé, Ummni Khan, Michael Mopas, Augustine S. J. Park, George S. Rigakos, Dale Spencer and Kevin Walby.

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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Criminology and Criminal JusticeCarleton UniversityOttawaCanada

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