Neoliberalism and Risk in Criminology

THE CRITICAL CRIMINOLOGY COMPANION, pp. 55-67, T. Anthony & C. Cunneen, eds., Federation Press, 2008

Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 09/83

18 Pages Posted: 16 Sep 2009  

Pat O'Malley

University of Sydney - Faculty of Law

Date Written: 2008

Abstract

Beginning in the 1970s, several new strands of thought and action began emerging in criminal justice across many jurisdictions. One of these was a new focus on risk, especially as embodied in a new emphasis on crime prevention, but also on sentencing that reflected risk principles and sanctions that focused more on incapacitation and deterrence than on reform. For some criminologists these were the hallmarks of risk-based criminal justice. But such a view ignores the fact that these developments reflect only one of the many ways risk can be mobilized as a technique for governing. This chapter reviews the ways in which neo-liberalism shaped criminal justice in the past thirty years, especially through the ways it shaped risk as victim-focused, individualistic and 'responsibilising.' At the same time, it is stressed other trends in risk mobilization have been gathering strength - for example, in risk-needs-responsivity techniques that provide therapeutic services to prisoners where these have demonstrated crime-reducing effects. As a result, neo-liberal penology is much more open and unstable than is often imagined, capable of being merged in very different ways - and with highly diverse policy effects - by politics ranging from neo-conservative to social democratic.

Keywords: criminology, neo-liberalism, governmentality, risk, penology, criminal justice

JEL Classification: K10, K14, K30

Suggested Citation

O'Malley, Pat, Neoliberalism and Risk in Criminology (2008). THE CRITICAL CRIMINOLOGY COMPANION, pp. 55-67, T. Anthony & C. Cunneen, eds., Federation Press, 2008 ; Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 09/83. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1472862

Pat O'Malley (Contact Author)

University of Sydney - Faculty of Law ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia

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