The Concept of Crime and Transnational Networks of Community
Published in P. Alldridge, L. Cheliotis and V. Mitsilegas eds, Globalisation, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice: Theoretical, Comparative and Transnational Perspectives. Oxford: Hart, 2014
21 Pages Posted: 30 Sep 2014
Date Written: September 29, 2014
How is it decided what kinds of behaviour are to be recognised as ‘crime’? Typically, in modern conditions it has been left to the state to make this determination by its decisions about the scope of criminal law. But this paper argues that the state monopoly of defining crime is being weakened by the transnational spread of criminal jurisdiction – that is, by the increasingly pressing need to apply concepts of crime coherently across (even irrespective of) state boundaries. If this is so, the question of how the meaning of ‘crime’ is to be settled (and by whom) assumes renewed importance. Cultural authority (the authority of popular ideas arising in everyday social life) to shape the concept of crime may gain renewed significance as the political authority to shape it becomes contested or less clear. The paper discusses why the state’s independent power to decide what is criminal is being destabilised or restricted. It argues that, correspondingly, sources of cultural authority supporting new ideas of what is to count as crime are developing beyond the state, not in a global ‘international community’ but in a range of diverse, competing, often conflicting, emergent transnational ‘networks of community’.
Keywords: definition of crime; concept of crime; criminalisation; Durkheim; Weber; international criminal law; state crime; transnational networks; culture and crime.
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