Volume 1, Number 2, of Justice, Power and Resistance, the Journal of the European Group for the Study of Deviance and Social Control was published in December 2017 and made available, open access, on this website in May 2018.
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The critical analysis of power and especially the harms of power have been central to the critical criminological tradition. Whilst the focus has rightly often been on state power, considerable attention has also been given to the insights of Michel Foucault and his conceptualisations of power.
Civil society is regaining critical relevance after decades of attempts to suborn non-governmental organisations and more recent governmental manoeuvres in Western democracies to control activists and social advocates (Civicus, 2016). In this article, I suggest that contemporary struggles to keep the public terrain open for critical participatory politics must been seen against past neoliberal strategies for defining the salient concepts and functions of ‘good’ citizenship in terms of personal altruism or charitable philanthropy. In Britain, as well as in other countries, tropes of ‘community’ have offered a convenient template for facilitating neoliberal political agendas which privilege ideas about the essentially individualistic nature of volunteering and citizen participation. For decades, the project for creating a ‘post-welfare’ social contract has placed great emphasis on engineering participatory cultures among the citizenry in order to bolster their resilience in the face of deregulated, globalised capitalism. This article traces some of the key trends in British neoliberal communitarianism from its ordoliberal roots to the contemporary wave of participatory culture which appeals to productive citizenship, especially among the retired, unemployed and the young.
Becky Clarke, Kathryn Chadwick and Patrick Williams "Critical Social Research as a ‘Site of Resistance’: Reflections on Relationships, Power and Positionality"
This paper creates an opportunity for the authors to reflect on our collective efforts to create a space within the academy through which we can actively support communities and groups who are challenging injustice. Herein we consider the potential role of the academic in supporting sites of political or legal struggle, how we work to, with and within groups or communities attempting to resist State power. What is evident is the importance of reflexivity, considering and articulating our position, as a guiding principle. The issues we examine here are connected to our wider network beyond our collective work or institution.
In attesting to the virtues of critical social research, we draw upon our experiences particular our ongoing work with, and contributions to, the Hillsborough and JENGbA justice campaigns. When considered together this activity reveals a number of emergent themes which give shape to our approach in contributing to ‘sites of resistance’. We understand these spaces to be the intersections where State power and its impact on the lives of those who experience injustice is revealed. The site is then both a physical space of meeting, but could also be conceptualised as a conscious space where, by coming together, individuals, families, supporters, critical lawyers and academics, and other stakeholders make sense of the injustice together. Through this collective awakening the group can draw strength and generate strategies to challenge State power. It is in these spaces that resistance can be developed, nurtured and discussed.
The principles for discussion within this paper include: ‘being there’, ‘bearing witness’ and acknowledging injustice, of our relationships to marginalised communities and powerful institutions, and the significance of positionality (Scraton, 2007). Our aim then, is to work within collective organisations in order to expose and counter the hegemonic narratives and silencing processes through research informed interjection as opposition (Hall 1986; Mathiesen, 2004). By actively disrupting these discourses we can contribute to a process of re-humanising the ‘Other’, where the complex and historically situated relationships between communities, institutions and the State can be exposed (Scott, 2013).
Using the Latin American concept of ‘testimonio’ as a suitable tool of analysis, this article explores the narrative experiences of former detainees who ‘went public’ with accounts of State brutality and torture relating to the conflict in Northern Ireland. Referring directly to these historical narratives alongside the findings of a series of contemporary interviews with Republican former detainees, the article argues that the core aspects of testimonio – collective struggle, resistance, audience and action – can all be observed in the accounts of those who were subjected to State violence in the detention system of Northern Ireland and that these accounts represent particular ways of challenging the official discourse around the conflict, its historiography and its legacy.
Julia Downes "It's not the abuse that kills you, it's the silence": The Silencing of Sexual Violence Activism in Social Justice Movements in the UK Left.
Widespread doubt and disbelief of women and non-binary survivors who disclose, speak out and demand accountability for the violence they have experienced within social justice movements in the UK Left reveals a painful impasse and persistent barrier in movement building. Systemic failures of criminal justice responses to rape, sexual assault and domestic violence, coupled with State violence and regulation of social justice movements and marginalised groups, has led to consideration of community alternatives to help transform activist communities into cultures of safety and accountability. However, ‘counter-organising’ (INCITE! 2003; 2006) can distort, scrutinise and dismantle the work of survivors and their supporters in developing community accountability and safer spaces processes. The salvage research project (Downes, Hanson and Hudson, 2016) used participatory action research approaches and qualitative interviews with 10 women and non-binary survivors to explore the lived experiences of harm, violence and abuse experienced in activist communities in the UK. This article will explore how resistance to disclosures of gendered violence and anti-violence activism can be as (or more) harmful than the violence initially experienced. Five key silencing strategies are explored: (i) discrediting survivors and supporters; (ii) questioning the legitimacy of claim; (iii) questioning the legitimacy of community accountability; (iv) avoiding troubling recognitions; and (v) placing burden on survivors. The silencing of survivors and their supporters permits unequal power relations to remain unchanged, and removes any need for the misogyny and sexism produced in activist communities to be critically examined.
Alejandro Forero "Old and New Discourses: the Role of Positivist Criminology in the Criminalization of Anarchism"
This work focuses on the criminological construction of the anarchist as a different kind of being, and on the political and historical denial of anarchist thought. It will be explained how early criminological assumptions of the anarchist as ‘the other’ engaged with a broader discourse which legitimated evolutionist social and economic inequities. Theories which eliminated any ‘political’ components of anarchism were initially used by legislators to form exceptional laws aimed at combating this ideological ‘enemy’, and latterly became a bedrock of anti-terror legislation. The article ends with specific reference to Spain where current repression of certain social movements has similarly been based more on ideas than actions.
This article posits a materialist critique of recent penal transformations in the current context of the Spanish debtfare. The so called financial crisis has affected the economic structures, while reinforcing the symbiotic dimension of State-corporate power, and expanding punishment beyond the penal sphere – across most areas of public policing.
Recent Spanish history provides a good example of how penal policies and institutions can adapt to major changes in the accumulation regime. The on-going change of paradigm in some Northern-peripheral countries might be turning the post-welfare model – neoliberal prisonfare based on seclusion – to a debtocratic regime – painfare based on expulsion. The first boosted prison populations in the name of security. The latter unfolds through the ultimate collapse of social rights and the resort to expulsion as the paramount feature of capitalist deployment. All these effects take place in Spain, hence the need to shift the focus from ‘penal punishment’ (stricto sensu) towards a broader perspective on punishing through public policies, namely a new punitive normal – including penal and extra-penal punitive control devices. After the great recession of 2007-08 and the beginning of austerity policies in Spain, this broad expression of punitivism has grown, while resort to incarceration has taken a break: prison population has declined by 22 percent in Spain since 2010, while exclusion has amplified its expressions in both qualitative and quantitative terms. Therefore, the core thesis of this article might be summed up by the image of a social rule of law that turns into general administration of punishment, just in the period (2010-17) when prison population experiences its first reduction in the last 30 years.