Governmentality and Crime Control

Kevin Stenson, Buckinghamshire Chilterns University Coll

The Foucault-inspired governmentality perspective has been influential in recent critical criminology. The work of Garland, O'Malley, Feeley and Simon and others has contributed to the creation of narratives about crime control and criminology that highlight their role in creating new modes of governance through crime, beyond the parameters of the state. However, a range of criticisms has been advanced against this perspective. Many of these criticisms relate to the overly rational and abstract nature of the theoretical narrative with its focus on general trends in crime control policy and practice in the liberal democracies and relative neglect of the role of political agency and effects of local political economic and cultural conditions. Drawing on a series of studies by the author of offending and crime control practices in a middle England region this paper argues for the need to align the methods of this approach with realist institutional analysis at local levels. This provides a set of tools to help elucidate the links between general trends and local practices of governance through crime control.

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Updated 05/20/2006