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Questioning crime: social harms and global issues
Questioning crime: social harms and global issues

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4 Social harm and the ‘War on Terror’

Described image
Figure 8 Police and the army secure the area in front of the Louvre on 3 February 2017 in Paris, France following a suspected terrorist attack.

Throughout this course so far, you have encountered the concept of social harm and some of the arguments that are made concerning the limits of criminology for understanding and responding to social harm. This section explores further some of the criticisms that social harm theorists have made of criminology and criminal justice, highlighting issues of inequality, power and globalisation. Using what has become known as the ‘War on Terror’ as a case study, you will explore how particular global events are constructed as issues of ‘crime’ and ‘security’ (and, conversely, which are not). You will explore this through public and media discourse about the ‘War on Terror’, and how this discourse has been used politically and strategically to justify military action and, as some analysts have argued, to demonise, exclude and control particular ‘problem populations’. In particular, you will critically consider the implications of these measures and whether, ultimately, they do more harm than good.