Author(s): 

Nils Christie

This article explores ways of breaking down the social and cultural barriers that lead people to place others in closed categories rather than regarding them as individuals. Christie begins by briefly describing his own experience of living in a ‘ghetto’ before moving on to discuss the role of institutionalisation, notably of children, in the creation of ‘apartheid’.

He deplores the erection of walls between children and adults, the middle and working classes. Christie sees an important role for criminologists in the breaking down of barriers.

He argues that, rather than being the servants of the State, they ought to work as ‘translators’, giving meaning to the actions of those who seek to resist the conditions of apartheid. Finally, he advocates deinstitutionalisation and the return of children to society as a means of moving beyond apartheid.

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Nils Christie