french - The French Connection in Criminology Rediscovering...

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The French Connection in Criminology: Rediscovering Crime, Law and Social Change. Bruce Arrigo, Dragan Milovanovic, & Robert Schehr. Albany, NY: State University of NY Press. 2005 ALICIA DEAL 04-06-06 Sam Houston State University Postmodernism is a relatively new area of criminological theory that is based upon a larger expanse of theoretical thought. During the past two decades or so, postmodern concepts have been used to develop new methods and strategies for understanding the world around us and ourselves. These concepts have been applied to a wide range of fields including anthropology, philosophy, history, politics, and criminology. As it applies to criminology, postmodernism does not concentrate solely on criminal justice, rather the focus is on its role within society and its interaction with other institutions, such as family, school, government, business, etc. More specifically, postmodernist scholars argue that "the growth of, and changes in, the criminal justice apparatus are best understood by contextualizing them within macro shifts in society" (Kraska, 2004, 278). Consequently, this perspective on criminal justice thought provides insight into the criminal justice system within the social and cultural context as a result of vast societal changes that include such features as economic globalization, greater cultural diversity, dominance of "free-market model," rapid technological advancements, changing conceptions of gender, and complex shifts in political ideology, etc. (Kraska, 2004, 278). Arrigo, Milovanovic, and Schehr profess to offer insight as to the impact of French postmodernist theorists in order to broaden our understanding of postmodernism and to diversify its theoretical application within criminal justice. In the introduction, the authors detail the purpose of creating this book and outline the structure of the book itself. The authors argue that despite the "universal application and utilization" of postmodernism, "little attention has been given to the consolidation and coordination of this scholarship in any systematic fashion" (p. ix). Hence, the purpose of The French Connection is to provide a cohesive and thorough examination of the French roots of postmodernism. In the beginning of its history, postmodernism suffered from a skeptical, nihilistic undertone.
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Yet, later in its growth it has found an "affirmative" voice that resonates throughout much of this book's evaluation of the French scholars and their contributions to applied research. In the affirmative, postmodernism searches for "approaches to understanding meaning that ensure openness, reflexity, transparency, and sensitivity to the multifaceted nature of being human in society" (p. ix). Moreover, the affirmative view, unlike its predecessor, advocates for active rather than passive participation in understanding, and consequently changing, the world around us. The authors continuously to advocate this approach to criminal justice research throughout the book as a way to "advance of our knowledge of and response to law, crime, and justice" (p. xiii).
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