For Pragmatism and Politics: Crime, Social Harm and Zemiology

Tombs, Steve (2018). For Pragmatism and Politics: Crime, Social Harm and Zemiology. In: Boukli, Avi (Paraskevi) and Kotzé, Justin eds. Zemiology: Reconnecting Crime and Social Harm. Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 11–31.



What does it mean to go ‘beyond criminology’? This chapter seeks to tease out some of the issues at stake in the relationships between critical criminology, social harm and zemiology. In so doing, I engage in both personal reflection as well as critical considerations of some of the responses to Beyond Criminology, and on these bases suggest that there are a number of theoretical differences between critical criminology, social harm, and zemiology. These, in turn, pertain to the question of whether zemiology should be considered as a separate discipline or simply a branch of critical criminology, perhaps with a social-harm-approach twist. In conclusion, I argue that whether one embraces a rights or needs-based approach to addressing social harm it is ultimately a political commitment – albeit one about which we need to be clear.

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