1st Edition

Social Democratic Criminology

By Robert Reiner Copyright 2021
    180 Pages
    by Routledge

    180 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book argues that ‘social democratic criminology’ is an important critical perspective which is essential for the analysis of crime and criminal justice and crucial for humane and effective policy. The end of World War II resulted in 30 years of strategies to create a more peaceful international order. In domestic policy, all Western countries followed agendas informed by a social democratic sensibility. Social Democratic Criminology argues that the social democratic consensus has been pulled apart since the late 1960s, by the hegemony of neoliberalism: a resuscitation of nineteenth-century free market economics. There is now a gathering storm of apocalyptic dangers from climate change, pandemics, antibiotic resistance, and other existential threats. This book shows that the neoliberal revolution of the rich pushed aside social democratic values and policies regarding crime and security and replaced them with tougher ‘law and order’ approaches. The initial consequence was a tsunami of crime in all senses. Smarter security techniques did succeed in abating this for a while, but the decade of austerity in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis has seen growing violent and serious crime.

    Social Democratic Criminology charts the history of social democracy, discusses the variety of conflicting ways in which it has been interpreted, and identifies its core uniting concepts and influence on criminology in the twentieth century. It analyses the decline of social democratic criminology and the sustained intellectual and political attacks it has endured. The concluding chapter looks at the prospects for reviving social democratic criminology, itself dependent on the prospects for a rebirth of the broader social democratic movement.

    Written in a clear and direct style, this book will appeal to students and scholars of criminology, sociology, cultural studies, politics, history, social policy, and all those interested in social democracy and its importance for society.

    Introduction: Social Democracy – the Utopia that Worked  1.Social Democracy: Political History of a Moral Crusade  2.Social Democratic Criminology: The Political and Moral Economy of Crime and Criminal Justice  3.The Strange Death of Social Democratic Criminology  4.Born Again Social Democratic Criminology


    Robert Reiner is Emeritus Professor of Criminology in the Law Department at the London School of Economics. He was President of the British Society of Criminology from 1993–6; Director of the LSE Mannheim Centre for Criminology and Criminal Justice from 1995–8; and convener of the Law Department from 2001–4. He is author of: The Blue-Coated Worker, Chief Constables, Law and Order, Policing, Popular Culture and Political Economy, Crime: The Mystery of the Common-Sense Concept, and The Politics of the Police, Fifth Edition (with Ben Bowling and James Sheptycki), and Editor (with Mike Maguire and Rod Morgan) of the first five editions of The Oxford Handbook of Criminology. He has also written numerous journal articles and book chapters. He received the British Society of Criminology Outstanding Achievement Award in 2011.

    Robert Reiner is one of Britain's most esteemed criminologists. In Social Democratic Criminology, he offers a detailed analysis of the progress made during the social democratic era and the great harms associated with the neoliberal era. Reiner's goals are to persuade a new generation of criminologists of the benefits of social democracy and construct a plan for how we might revive it. Accessible, erudite and always insightful, Reiner's book is sure to become a classic. 

    Simon Winlow, Professor of Criminology, Northumbria University, UK.

    The definitive account of what the author calls the ‘strange death of social democratic criminology’ and its implications  for justice and liberty, this book ranges from the roots of social democracy to prospects for a ‘green new deal’. It is challenging, rigorous – and in the current political context – much needed.

    Nigel South, Professor of Sociology, University of Essex, UK

    With trademark clarity and moral urgency, Reiner describes the intersecting existential threats facing us and makes the case for reviving social democratic criminology, encompassing both political economy and ethical critique. This important book offers a hopeful vision of criminology’s future. A compelling read for confusing and disquieting times.

    Elizabeth Turner, Lecturer in Sociology and Criminology, University of Liverpool, UK

    This book speaks directly to the current moment: the neoliberal era is in crisis, the alternative has yet to be born. Social democracy - adapted and reinvented - can form the base for a broader social and justice movement.

    Mary Corcoran, Keele University, UK.  

    To say that Robert Reiner is one of the most admired scholars in criminology is to state the more than obvious… What we gain from this book is both a much clearer understanding of a major tradition—one that continues to inform the thinking of many scholars and practitioners around the world, however implicitly—and a sharp sense of the need to rethink and revitalize that current of thought. It is a bold and poignant statement by an extraordinary scholar.

    Richard Sparks, University of Edinburgh, UK, Theoretical Criminology

    The title and content are courageous, as they evoke philosophies and socio-political arrangements that have long been banned from public debate. Reiner’s Social Democracy claims not only the legacy of Rosa Luxemburg but also the political right to expose the dysfunctions of contemporary democratic systems. Think of the incessant centralization of power, the expansion of plutocracies and the failure to build an emancipated, egalitarian and sustainable future. Think of how contemporary democracies keep denying their own principles in order to allegedly defend themselves; how, in brief, their resources for self-correction are extremely poor. It seems to me that Social Democracy, in the way Reiner proposes it, contains a set of values that may stop current democracies from de-democratizing.

    Vincenzo Ruggiero, Middlesex University, UK, The British Journal of Criminology