Criminology, Crime Control and Hygiene

Simon Hallsworth, London Metropolitan University

By its nature Crime belongs to the state of unruly things constitutive of the heterogenaic which also contains all other things sacred, abject, transgressive and unproductive. As a base and abject behaviour that violates the normal rules of homogeneous society, crime is something that modern homogeneous socities must be inoculated from, as they must from all forms of unproductive behaviour. In a society which, like America, has selected repressive and violent means to achieve this (including recourse to disproportionate punishment, mass incarceration, execution), the response directed at suppressing the heterogeneity of crime paradoxically requires invoking the mobilisation of heterogenaic means themselves incompatible with the normal rules of homogeneous life. This paper traces the tactics deployed within America that enable it to live with the violent and unproductive orders of expenditure it sanctions; and explores how it deploys such mechanisms to sustain a simulation of itself as positively productive -- despite its decent into the violent orders of heterogenaic life. At the level of crime control this simulation, I will suggest, is sustained by overt attempts at literal denial; hygenising violence through removing it to the margins of society, 'civilising' its most brutal manifestations, and representing it as other than itself. At the level of criminology these processes of hygiene operate through the proliferation of forms of knowledge organised around epistemologies systematically designed to filter out the very violence of the industry they serve.

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Updated 05/20/2006