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Is Communalism Dead? Reflections on the Present and Future Practice of Crime Prevention: Part Two

Carson, W. G
June 4, 2015

Source: (2004) The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology. 37(2): 192-210.

This paper, of which this is the second part, takes up a strange paradox or dissonance that characterizes contemporary crime prevention, particularly perhaps in Australia. On the one hand, there is an ample literature pointing out the conceptual and practical drawbacks of community, or more broadly of communalism (incorporating social capital), in crime prevention; on the other, policy and practice seem largely oblivious to these difficulties and hence, by extension, to the need for more appropriate conceptual formations upon which to base collective approaches to crime prevention. Part One of the article (Carson, 2004) traced the allure and the difficulties of communalism in general and in crime prevention in particular. Part Two takes up the challenge of developing new and more appropriate foundations for a collectively-based approach in this policy arena. This it does by drawing selectively on the insights of radical communitarianism (shorn of its utopian communal overtones), on attempts to go beyond the close ties of social capital to a looser collective efficacy, and on discursive possibilities that address issues of difference, rights and democratisation in relation to crime prevention. By this means, it is argued, crime prevention may be reconnected to questions of social justice and collective capacity without surrendering to the false attractions of an anachronistic communalism. Author’s abstract.


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