Social identities in late modernity: offender and victim identity constructions

Basia Spalek

in Communities, identities and crime

Published by Policy Press

Published in print November 2007 | ISBN: 9781861348043
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447301899 | DOI:
Social identities in late modernity: offender and victim identity constructions

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This chapter examines the relevance of identity formations for criminology and their significance in a criminal justice context. Conceptualising today's society as late modernity, it argues that when writing about the nature of social identities in contemporary western society, it is important to consider the interplay, tensions and contradictions between modernity's ‘imperative of order’, including the expression of collective identities and interests, and the fragmentation, individualisation and fluidity of identities associated with conditions of late modernity. It also suggests that within a criminal justice context, the identities of both offenders and victims are relevant, as are identities in relation to gender, ‘race’/ethnicity, religion/spirituality, sexual orientation, disability and ageing. Turning specifically to a criminal justice and community safety context, the chapter shows how the subject of identities is relevant in many ways. Finally, it provides a few examples of the ways in which identity is socially constructed and enacted within prisons.

Keywords: criminal justice; social identities; criminology; identity formations; late modernity; offenders; victims; gender; community safety; prisons

Chapter.  11904 words. 

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