Reasonable hopes: Social theory, critique and reconstruction in contemporary criminology

Ian Loader, Richard Sparks

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Abstract / Description of output

We argue that one abiding weakness of many attempts by criminologists to come to gripswith distinctive and often alarming aspects of contemporary realities is a limitedunderstanding of politics, and in particular of political theory, The increasing institutionalization of criminology as a ‘discipline’ often serves to exacerbate this tendency.We refer to themes in the work of Tony Bottoms as exemplifying benefits of seeking out a wider range of conceptual resources, including those provided by normative theoretical work.The work of Bottoms and colleagues on problems of legitimacy is a case in point that illuminates central aspects of criminal justice and their relations to problems of contemporary democracies. We go on to argue that the pragmatist tradition in democratic theory has much to offer students of crime and justice, especially with regard to the complex relations between expert knowledge and programmatic social change. We discuss these claims in light of Dewey’s conception of ‘inquiry’ and Unger’s arguments for ‘empowered democracy’.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCrime, Justice and Social Order
Subtitle of host publicationEssays in Honour of A. E. Bottoms
EditorsAlison Liebling, Joanna Shapland, Richard Sparks, Justice Tankebe
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)9780192675743
ISBN (Print)9780192859600
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jan 2022

Publication series

NameClarendon Studies in Criminology
PublisherOxford University Press

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • theory
  • legitimacy
  • democracy
  • pragmatism


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