Stephen Jackson B8521612 ETMA03
How does the concept of ‘problem’ populations highlight the ‘entangled’ nature of relationship between crime control and social welfare policy ?In what ways does the entanglement raise issues of social justice? This assignment will demonstrate how the concept of problem populations highlights the complex entanglements of social welfare policies and crime control. I will be drawing on evidence which demonstrates how these policies raise issues of social justice. The first example to be used is that of Hurricane Katrina which devastated the city of New Orleans on 29th August 2005.This catastrophe left over one thousand dead and left thousands homeless, without drinking water, food or sanitation. Prior to the hurricane ‘the majority of the population of 1.3 millions., took part in ‘the largest forced migration in recent U.S. history’. ( Gotham, 2007,p.81). Gotham goes on to state that those left behind were predominantly black and poor working class people and with large numbers of elderly people and children who were quickly engulfed by flood water. The residents of these communities were viewed as a problem population due to the high levels of crime in these areas and deep rooted social issues. This view was perpetuated by the twenty four hour worldwide media coverage of the lootings, rape, murder and violence in the aftermath of the Hurricane. The coverage ignored the fact that some of the looting was a result of lack of any aid being sent into the area and can be seen as a survival technique by people suffering from social injustice. Media emphasis was put on the area developing into uncontrolled anarchy by the media coverage which was sensationalised. This provides us with an ‘example of how poverty, disorderly behaviour and criminal activity come to be seen as closely interlinked’. (Mooney 2008, p104). In direct contrast to eye witness accounts which provides a valuable insight into the people’s experiences and growing social needs.
Two white paramedics Bradshaw and Slonky, demonstrate in their account the lack of social welfare and the slowness by the federal government to provide the needy with the aid required to alleviate the growing social problems, instead they concentrated on crime control. The entanglement between social welfare and crime control is clear as “countering antisocial behaviour may be defined as a social welfare matter in that it protects the welfare and wellbeing of some against the disruption caused by others” (Newman and Yeates, 2008 page 13). The two paramedics faced confrontation with the National Guard, misinformation they were given, the aggressive attitudes they experienced, from the authorities, especially as they reached the New Orleans Bridge which demonstrated a crime control policy of containment and bias against the mainly black population. Their account also provides valuable evidence to show that’ contrary to concepts of poor people as “‘passive’ and ‘idle’, many of the most adversely affected by Katrina were not prepared or were unable to sit out the disaster until the government chose to respond. Instead they mobilised collectively to find safety and protest against the injustices they suffered”. (Mooney 2008, p.104-105). Many commentators see hurricane Katrina as a social rather than natural disaster. Geographical factors can be seen to play a part as ‘rich people tend to take the higher ground, leaving the poor and working class land more vulnerable to flooding… (Smith 2006) ’, combined with racial and class segregation. The US governments fiscal cuts and it’s anti- terror drive post 9/11, meant that preparation for and relief programmes to help alleviate the effects of disasters were little or non- existent. Neumayr refers to‘ New Orlean’s hellish housing complexes…’ as part of the social problem which clearly demonstrates that the poor and disadvantaged can be defined as a problem population simply by the area...
References: Bradshaw,L. and Slonsky, L.B. (2005) in ‘Problem’ populations, problem places Social Justice Crime and Society, Maidenhead, Open University,Milton Keynes, The Open University.
Gotham, S.F. (2007) ‘Problem’ populations, problem places Social Justice Crime and Society, Maidenhead, Open University,Milton Keynes, The Open University.
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