What can we learn from the legal cases of Stephen Lawrence and Louise Woodward? How do the legal system and the media contribute to a collective understanding of class, nation, race and gender? In this book, Siobhan Holohan explores media representations of law and order in the context of notions of multi-culturalism and victim-centred politics. Two high profile cases - the murder of Stephen Lawrence and the US trial of the British au-pair, Louise Woodward - are examined. Holohan argues that the stories built up around Woodward and Lawrence - the organization of public discourse around a sacrificial figure - have contributed to exclusionary patterns of social order. The book offers a perceptive account of what makes some criminal legal cases prone to scrutiny and spectacle and provides a vivid illustration of the presence of power relations in legal decisions. In conclusion, the author draws on the model of the Macpherson report to propose a more inclusive form of social and legal judgement that takes into account social inequalities.
Contents: Introduction: society, regulation and representation; Gender and Power: The family as moral centre of social organization; Symbolic transformations; The scapegoat mechanism; Reading Racism: Ethnic subjectivity and identity reformation; The violence of discourse; Criminal justice and society; Conclusion: toward an ethic of representation; Bibliography; Index.