What Is a Crime?
Legal Dimensions Series This series stems from an annual legal and socio-legal research initiative sponsored by the Canadian Association of Law Teachers, the Canadian Law and Society Association, the Canadian Council of Deans, and the Law Commission of Canada. Volumes in this series examine various issues of law reform from a multidisciplinary perspective. The series seeks to advance our knowledge about law and society through the analysis of fundamental aspects of law. The essays in this volume were selected by representatives from each partner association: Dorothy Chunn (Canadian Law and Society Association), John EcEvoy (Canadian Association of Law Teachers), Beth Bilson (Canadian Council of Law Deans), and Steven Bittle and Nathalie Des Rosiers (Law Commission of Canada). 1 Personal Relationships of Dependence and Interdependence in Law 2 New Perspectives on the Public-Private Divide 3 What Is a Crime? Defining Criminal Conduct in Contemporary Society
LAW COMMISSION OF CANADA COMMISSION DU DROIT DU CANADA
Edited by the Law Commission of Canada
What Is a Crime? Defining Criminal Conduct in Contemporary Society
© UBC Press 2004 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without prior written permission of the publisher, or, in Canada, in the case of photocopying or other reprographic copying, a licence from Access Copyright (Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency), www.accesscopyright.ca. 15 14 13 12 11 10 09 08 07 06 05 04 Printed in Canada on acid-free paper National Library of Canada Cataloguing in Publication What is a crime?: defining criminal conduct in contemporary society / edited by the Law Commission of Canada. (Legal dimensions series) Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0-7748-1086-6 1. Criminology – Canada. 2. Criminal law – Canada. 3. Sociological jurisprudence. I. Law Commission of Canada. II. Series. HV6025.W475 2004 364.971 C2004-901786-1 54321
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Introduction / vii Nathalie Des Rosiers and Steven Bittle 1 What Is a Crime? A Secular Answer / 1 Jean-Paul Brodeur, with Geneviève Ouellet 2 Undocumented Migrants and Bill C-11: The Criminalization of Race / 34 Wendy Chan 3 Crime, Copyright, and the Digital Age / 61 Steven Penney 4 Criminalization in Private: The Case of Insurance Fraud / 99 Richard V. Ericson and Aaron Doyle 5 From Practical Joker to Offender: Reflections on the Concept of “Crime” / 125 Pierre Rainville 6 Poisoned Water, Environmental Regulation, and Crime: Constituting the Nonculpable Subject in Walkerton, Ontario / 155 Laureen Snider Contributors / 185 Index / 187
Nathalie Des Rosiers and Steven Bittle
On the surface, to ask “what is a crime?” seems to warrant a straightforward answer in that one can simply suggest that “crime is something that is against the law.” For those who adopt such a strict definition, or a legal-consensus approach to crime (see, for example, Tappan 1947), studying the law as it is written is sufficient for understanding what society considers harmful behaviour. However, if we take a step back from this literal interpretation to consider the broader social processes that help give meaning to crime and its control, it quickly becomes apparent that there is much more to the question than simply referring to what is written in the law. As Comack and Brickey (1991, 15) remind us, “[l]aw can be said to have a distinctly social basis; it both shapes – and is shaped by – the society in which it operates”...
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