Limited Responsibilities (Sociology of Law and Crime) by Tamar Pitch

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By Tamar Pitch

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Extra resources for Limited Responsibilities (Sociology of Law and Crime)

Example text

Finally, the victim—or rather a certain category of victim—is certainly in a position, and indeed is the only subject who is entitled to define the problem, but not to identify the solution unless s/he possesses the same theoretical-political model as the criminologist. It is, in short, the latter who is the repository of a knowledge which puts her/ him in a position to choose the viewpoints of the correct victims. Such knowledge is therefore constructed around a theoretical-political model in which ‘causes’ and ‘actors’ interpretations’ are in reality inferred from and adjusted to the ‘solutions’ that the model itself prefigures.

The question of responsibility is, on the other hand, strictly connected, as will be seen, to ways of defining, conceiving of, and studying the so-called criminal question. THE PARADOX OF RESPONSIBILITY Responsibility is a moral (philosophical) question, and it refers to the consequences of an action to which someone can respond. That implies first of all a de-naturalised context. It is not necessary that the result of a certain action is conceived of as intentionally willed: it is, however, necessary that the subject of that action is seen as capable of acting intentionally, and the action itself is seen as one of the alternatives available to the subject.

In this form neglect becomes interpreted as social dangerousness. If neglect directs attention to the responsibilities of welfare agencies and evokes a care model, social dangerousness directs attention to the criminal justice system and evokes the model of custody. When the emphasis is on neglect, social dangerousness is re-configured in therapeutic terms appropriate to demands for, and experiments in, a type of social control backed up by custodial measures of a ‘community service’ type. Such strategies seek legitimacy through an appeal to the right of the individual to receive care and the duty of the state to provide it, even against the wishes of the client (I refer to the debate on drug dependency, obligatory cure, the therapeutic community).

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