Governing Through Crime: How the War on Crime Transformed American Democracy and Created a Culture of Fear

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Oxford University Press, Feb 3, 2007 - History - 344 pages
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Across America today gated communities sprawl out from urban centers, employers enforce mandatory drug testing, and schools screen students with metal detectors. Social problems ranging from welfare dependency to educational inequality have been reconceptualized as crimes, with an attendant focus on assigning fault and imposing consequences. Even before the recent terrorist attacks, non-citizen residents had become subject to an increasingly harsh regime of detention and deportation, and prospective employees subjected to background checks. How and when did our everyday world become dominated by fear, every citizen treated as a potential criminal? In this startlingly original work, Jonathan Simon traces this pattern back to the collapse of the New Deal approach to governing during the 1960s when declining confidence in expert-guided government policies sent political leaders searching for new models of governance. The War on Crime offered a ready solution to their problem: politicians set agendas by drawing analogies to crime and redefined the ideal citizen as a crime victim, one whose vulnerabilities opened the door to overweening government intervention. By the 1980s, this transformation of the core powers of government had spilled over into the institutions that govern daily life. Soon our schools, our families, our workplaces, and our residential communities were being governed through crime. This powerful work concludes with a call for passive citizens to become engaged partners in the management of risk and the treatment of social ills. Only by coming together to produce security, can we free ourselves from a logic of domination by others, and from the fear that currently rules our everyday life.
 

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Contents

Crime and American Governance
3
1 Power Authority and Criminal Law
13
Executive Authority and the War on Crime
33
Fearing Crime and Making Law
75
The Jurisprudence of Crime and the Decline of Judicial Governance
111
Race the War on Crime and Mass Imprisonment
141
Governing Domestic Relations Through Crime
177
Reforming Education Through Crime
207
Crime Victimization and Punishment in the Deregulated Workplace
233
From Cancer to Crime to Terror
259
Notes
285
References
301
Index
319
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Page 17 - Government" did not refer only to political structures or to the management of states; rather it designated the way in which the conduct of individuals or of groups might be directed: the government of children, of souls, of communities, of families, of the sick. It did not...
Page 17 - It did not only cover the legitimately constituted forms of political or economic subjection, but also modes of action, more or less considered and calculated, which were destined to act upon the possibilities of action of other people. To govern, in this sense, is to structure the possible field of action of others.

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About the author (2007)

Jonathan Simon is Associate Dean of Jurisprudence and Social Policy and Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley. Co-editor of the journal Punishment & Society, he is also the author of Poor Discipline: Parole and the Social Control of the Underclass, 1890-1990 and co-editor of two other volumes.

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