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Crime, Inequality and Social Change


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 5
  • Convenor and tutor: Professor Sarah Lamble
  • Assessment: two 600-word reading journals (40%) and three 700-word reading and application journals (60%)

Module description

In this module we grapple with the problem of inequality within the criminal justice. Despite repeated efforts at redress, patterns of inequality - such as racial disparities in stop and search, the class dimensions of policing and punishment, and the failure to address the gendered nature of violence - remain acute with the criminal legal system. We will explore different perspectives on the root causes of these patterns as well as efforts to address them by asking:

  • Why is inequality so deeply engrained with the criminal legal system?
  • What causes inequality within criminal justice?
  • How can we address these inequalities?

Drawing from a range of theoretical tools and concepts, we will be able to question and respond to underlying causes of inequality within criminal justice. A key aim in doing so, is to support you in developing your capacity to think critically, conceptually and practically about contemporary criminal justice problems, issues and debates.

Indicative syllabus

Mapping inequalities in criminal Justice

  • Confronting problems of inequality in criminal justice
  • Mapping different explanations for inequality

Explaining inequalities in criminal justice

  • Ideology
  • Law
  • Colonialism
  • Racial capital
  • Neoliberalism

Addressing inequalities in criminal justice

  • The role of the state in social change
  • The role of society in social change
  • The future of (in)equality: assessing strategies for change

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • identify and evaluate a range of social, political and economic explanations for inequality within criminal justice
  • compare and assess different theories of social change
  • apply different theoretical frameworks to contemporary criminal justice problems and dilemmas, particularly in relation to issues of inequality
  • approach challenging theoretical texts with a range of reading strategies and interpretive tools
  • undertake ‘close readings’ of theoretical texts and engage in reflexive reading practices
  • deploy critical argumentation and debating skills.