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Crime and Control


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 7
  • Convenor: Nathan Moore
  • Assessment: a 4000-word essay (100%)

Module description

This one-term course is concerned with the construction of differences in society that then call for management and policing. Focusing on the rise of surveillance, anti-social behaviour law and risk, the module will examine how differential demographics identify certain sections of the populations as being in need of governance, ‘nudging’ and, in particular, of self-policing. This will include a consideration of the role played by the image of the economy as the condition under which action is considered to be both necessary (so as to intervene in problem populations) whilst, at the same time - and paradoxically - such intervention is also considered to be impossible and/or ineffective. In this, the module presents these recent developments in legal thinking as being exemplary of the latest shifts in the West’s long tradition of splitting governance between an absolute power (sovereignty) and a limited power (such as liberal democracy), which tells us that, at the same time, power is absolute and can achieve whatever is decided upon, but also constrained by the ‘realities’ of the situation and, even, merely distorting of those realities (eg the market), and so should not be exercised.

What this leads to is a situation where the individual is expected to simply ‘know’ what is in their own best interests as an actor under market conditions. Consequently, the idea of governance is exercised by reference to this innate idea that one should always know the best course of action through a balancing of gains and losses, and by navigating between incentives and disincentives. Whilst this is presented as ‘choice’ and ‘opportunity’, we will consider in the module how such ‘choice’ is in fact the very mechanism through which all of society - and in particular ‘problem’ populations - are governed; that is, put under control.

The module therefore operates on at least two levels at once, taking account of specific forms of governance whilst at the same time exploring the broader logic which makes these forms possible and desirable. It will involve positioning specific articulations of control (ASB law, surveillance) within a theoretical and philosophical framework.