Crime and Globalisation

author: Renata Salecl, Institute of Criminology, Faculty of Law, University of Ljubljana
published: Oct. 30, 2009,   recorded: September 2009,   views: 4334

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Post-industrial societies are facing changes in the way people internalize social norms, what they feel guilty about, when they experience shame and how they perceive punishment. Identification with traditional authorities which have in the past transmitted social norms has been declining for some time. Individualism has been pushed to its limits. And transgression of norms which comes from global capital, international financial institution and state governments has often been cherished as a matter of progress. Under the veil of ideology of perpetual economic growth on the societal level and advancement of self-fulfilment on the individual level, the definition of what counts as transgression has been globally altered. Redefinition of what counts as a limit, what is the nature of the prohibition and what are publicly acceptable forms of remorse as well as individually experienced anxieties in regard to prohibitions also underwent a change. Feeling of guilt and shame often accompanies individual’s striving towards creating an image of perfect life and not so much transgression of moral rules and the legal order. In this context the definition of crime has radically changed, too. How can criminology respond to these changes? As an interdisciplinary discipline it needs to in a new way assess the way malaise of the civilization affects the malaise of the individual and vice versa. In trying to understand this connection, some lessons from contemporary psychoanalytic knowledge might be of help, especially the reasoning that utilitarianism ultimately failed in its perception that people work towards advancement of their well being and minimalization of pain. Current economic crisis, for example, cannot be explained through this framework – rather we need to look at it through the prism of an enjoyment in selfdestruction which has always been the hidden underside of progress.

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