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The Oxford Handbook of Criminology

The Oxford Handbook of Criminology (7th edn)

Alison Liebling, Shadd Maruna, and Lesley McAra
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date: 13 April 2024

p. 54225. Crime and consumer culturelocked

p. 54225. Crime and consumer culturelocked

  • Keith Hayward
  •  and Oliver Smith


Proceeding from a theoretical perspective, this chapter examines the various relationships that exist between consumer culture and crime. The chapter starts by looking at criminology’s past, and a short review of some of the main theories/theorists that have actually trained attention on consumerism as a criminogenic phenomenon. This section also includes a critique of the supposed oppositional potential of consumerism that dominated the social sciences until relatively recently. Turning to the present, the chapter then introduces three distinct but complementary perspectives that offer a more useful and critical explanation of ‘the crime-consumerism nexus’. First, cultural criminology addresses the criminogenic impact of global capitalism at the level of cultural discourse and everyday transgression. Second, ultra-realist criminology identifies the damage caused by consumer capitalism, and more specifically how the dominance of neoliberal ideology shapes the deep-rooted desires and drives behind much identity-driven criminality. Finally, the deviant leisure perspective draws on both these positions to illustrate how dominant forms of commodified leisure drive a range of social, environmental, and individual harms. The relationship between crime and consumerism is not a simple one but, as this chapter argues, it is one that demands serious and critical criminological attention.

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