How do the concept of ‘social harm’ and the understanding relations of power aid our understanding of the complexities of crime? Social harm is a concept that has no real definitive meaning and can be seen to be quite ambiguous with having several different meanings to people within society. Harm is defined as injury or damage imposed intentionally or unintentionally upon society, social institutions or individuals. Social harm allows for Criminologists to gauge recognition of certain behaviours that go beyond legal and state definitions of harmful, hurtful and detrimental practices and see them as forms of harm, because of this social harm is seen to have advantages over crime. Crime is defined as an action that is detrimental to society and it values or is legally prohibited, these are then punishable by criminal laws set out by Government. However, definitions of crimes through the years have changed, many losing their criminal status within this modernising world and are dependent form state from state to state. In sociological terms, power is any form of suppression on human behaviour that derives from unequal social relations, servitude and any structures of dominance that is forced upon or dealt out through some sort of general agreement. Power plays a part in how social harm and crime is perceived within society of today. Through the use of chapter 2 Mooney and Talbot ‘Global cities, segregation and transgression’ and chapter 4 Westmorland ‘Gender abuse and people trafficking’ this essay will discuss how the concept of social harm and the understanding relations of power aid out understanding of the complexities of crime.
Chapter 2 Mooney and Talbot ‘Global cities, segregation and transgression’ focuses on the connections between crime and social control and their relations to geography and space. Mooney and Talbot look at urban space is terms of how crime is viewed via policies that are aimed at managing behaviour and helping to prevent crime. Years ago cities were considered a place of crime but in today’s modernising world, the city has now become the popular choice to live for many of the millions populations. However, insecurities and fears about crime, violence and social change are manifested and portrayed in many contrasting ways and ideas.
‘The social phenomenon of boundary creation suggests, therefore, that the encounter of difference or ‘otherness’ is a problem for society.’ (Mooney and Talbot, 2012, pg. 47)
Section 3 of chapter 2 highlights how spaces used by the public are managed to prevent crime and influence certain populations that are considered as being a ‘problem population’ and displaying problematic behaviour. Extract 2.1 ‘We are not pigeons’ is an article that demonstrates that with today’s westerns society, there is a need to control and dictate to violent and unruly young people. The article reports about a council installing a gadget that emits a high frequency noise that is only audible to young people in a bit to combat anti-social behaviour in a place called Hertsmere. A leader of the Elstree and Borehamwood Youth Council comments on the article saying that this type of device is similar to ones used to get rid of cats, foxes and pigeons when they are a nuisance, so this would suggest that the young people are being branded as sort of animal. This article highlights a form of power enacted by the Borehamwood and Radlett Council in a way to categorise and exclude the young people who they deem to be a ‘problem population’. Through this exertion of power, social harms are being caused as neglecting the fact that this particular social group are subjected and made victims of violence, abuse and exploitation already.
‘Being denied access to public spaces may eventually result in young people being unable to communicate and integrate with others unlike themselves’ (Baunan cited in Mooney et el, 2010, pg.51) Despite the government trying to prevent and prohibit certain...
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