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The Oxford Textbook on Criminology

The Oxford Textbook on Criminology (2nd edn)

Steve Case, Phil Johnson, David Manlow, Roger Smith, and Kate Williams
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date: 18 May 2022

p. 618p. 61920. Right and left realismlocked

p. 618p. 61920. Right and left realismlocked

  • Steve Case,
  • Phil Johnson,
  • David Manlow,
  • Roger Smith
  •  and Kate Williams

Abstract

This chapter focuses on realist criminologies which emerged in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The two main strands were right realism and left realism, so called because of the political leanings that influenced them. Realist criminologies were, in basic terms, theoretical developments grounded in and informed by sociological positivism (right realism) and critical criminologies (left realism). Realism itself is an important social scientific concept, developed to try to provide a basis for understanding social realities which are not directly observable or precisely measurable, but undoubtedly have material substance and affect human behaviour, such as the law. More recently, we have seen a further variation emerge in the form of ‘ultra-realist’ criminology, which seeks to challenge and extend the definition of ‘crime’ to encompass the idea of ‘social harm’, thereby making a connection with concerns about the environment or damaging state and corporate activity.

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