Critically consider the way in which a focus on social harm can help us to explore the complexities of ‘crime’. Introduction:
The concept of crime differs widely between nations and within different social groups, locally and globally. The influence of governments, corporations and individuals who are able to wield power enables differing concepts of crime to flourish, and the interpretation of crime to vary according to laws implemented by those in power. Criminal justice also varies within different nation states. In exploring the complexities of crime it is important to emphasise that power can offer protection and immunisation for those who have caused harm to members of society. Making people accountable for their actions takes on a different meaning when those in power seek to exploit those who have no say in the decision making process. This essay explores the complex way in which notions of crime appear to provide a “smoke-screen” for everyday dangers that people face, including injuries in the work place, inner city strategies that benefit the powerful rather than the poorer citizens and cybercrime that causes harm by exploiting vulnerable people and offering anonymity to offenders. As global issues of crime and violence dominate the daily news, people are constantly faced with scenes of conflict. The changing face of the Middle East has highlighted how those in power can be toppled when citizens rise up to overcome repression. The chance to rise up and over-throw despots in the “The Arab Spring” (phrase coined by the media) has highlighted the fact that citizens in different nations are able to instigate change, when they act as one. The uprising started in Tunisia on Dec. 17, 2010 after Mohammed Bouazizi, a 26-year-old Tunisian man, set himself on fire in front of a local municipal office. According to a reporter in Tunisia the incident occurred because earlier that day, Tunisian police had confiscated Bouazizi’s cart and beaten him because he did not have a permit. He went to the municipal office to file a complaint, where workers there ignored him. Bouazizi then set himself on fire. The internet offered a speedy means of communication and news of the incident spread throughout the Middle East where citizens of neighbouring nations took to the streets. Years of human rights abuses came to the fore and angry mobs were willing to face the might of their governments in order to be heard. The government officials lived in fortified parts of the city in various Middle Eastern capitals, while the poorer citizens were forced into more derelict suburbs. The crimes that had been committed for years against the people of these regimes were exposed and people demanded change. The torture and terror that had become part of the control mechanisms of regimes no longer prevented citizens from demanding democracy and the right to vote, better pay and conditions in the work place and the ability to speak freely and openly. Western companies have been found to be involved with many countries where human rights violations are a daily occurrence. China is the largest exporter of luxury goods to the West and has notoriously ignored requests from western countries to improve its human rights record. The Chinese leaders have managed to manipulate global companies into working in accordance within their strict information controls. When Google moved into China it agreed to restrict information reaching the Chinese people via the internet. This, however, has not stopped western companies from doing business with China and although William Hague (the UK Foreign Secretary) challenged China and Russia about the policing of the web, yet when it comes to British business a softer stance is adopted. Hague argued that it would be counter-productive to restrict free speech, and he stated that cyberspace must not be “stifled by government control or censorship” (Nick Hopkins, The Guardian, Tues 1 Nov). The internet...
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