Risk, power and crime prevention

In “Risk, power and crime prevention” a historical development is traced so as to better analyze the contemporary phenomenon of the actuarial management of crime prevention. The historical development begins with a feature of modern criminology, the individual as the sum or cause of all things. As definitive of Foucault’s conception of disciplinary technology and subsequently the understanding of crime as something that could be controlled.

The individual is the focus along with the individual’s biography, as a map to understand why crime happens and how it can be prevented on an individual level. It was previously believed that, normalization “in the disciplinary sense thus implies ‘correction’ of the individual, and the development of a causal knowledge of deviance and normalization. ”(O’Malley, 1992, 252) Currently, O’Malley frames the issue as one where the target of disciplinary technologies is no longer the individual, or the ‘correction’ of the individual but rather the situation and the management of risky situations.

Crime is not viewed in any extraordinary sense, and is not framed as so deviant and so particular that it needs its own categorization and specialization. Rather, neo-classical concepts of the rational actor frame the criminal as a person who is capable of cost/benefit analysis and the victim as also in a way, responsible for having been the victim. Agency is very much highlighted in both cases; “To install such an agent, situational crime prevention replaces the biographical criminal with a polar opposition-the abstract and universal ‘abiographical’ individual-the ‘rational choice’ actor.

”(O’Malley, 1992, 264) Responsibility is so stressed that people are privately held to standards so that they take responsibility for ensuring their greater self-security. From neighborhood watch programs, to security systems, to being in the right place at the right time instead of a dangerous place at the wrong time. A new system of responsibility on both ends of the crime dynamic is held in place as it appears to critics that the previous mechanisms of crime reduction.

All framed on a much more individual as an individual level, just did not work. What O’Malley ends up with is an article that traces the different ways that crime has been politically dealt with, even as it is a social force and exerts a social factor on people and places. It appears to O’Malley that punitive forces are still very much present, but that what is worrisome is that concepts of social justice are being shoved aside. As victims, communities, and neighborhoods are taxed with the problems and incapacitating problems that crime presents.

There seems to be more efforts to participate in keeping crime down instead of looking to the state or the state-sponsored social agencies to do all the work. Punitive measures are still very much alive even as individuals are rarely addressed under these new theorizations, but relying on the state entirely to provide responsive punitive measures is increasingly waning in force and popularity. In conclusion, O’Malley makes the point that as people become more aware of the issues of crime and punishment. That such awareness may create a greater sense of social justice and social solidarity.

(O’Malley, 1992, 268) O’Malley believes that the forms associated with this actuarial technology or technique are very open and allow for a lot of growth and change to occur that may be constructive. That through such a technology a greater focus on social problems can develop that would be a great product for the purposes of social enhancement and progress. II. Relation to Course Topics “Identify the different schools of thought” This article is able to start with Foucault’s theorizations on crime and disciplinary power by locating his theoretical constitution of the individual as “an object of knowledge.

”(O’Malley, 1992, 253) Conceptualizations from this starting point focus on disciplining people so that they can be more normalized and inhabit a very vast society and world. The disciplinary mechanism is linked to modernity and disciplines were not only negative, punitive, but also positive. Allowing for improvements of nutrition, work, and recreation. It is established that only after people have been successfully normalized to a substantial degree, that “risk-based technology-which is more tolerant of individual deviance and thus less overt and coercive in its intervention-may operate effectively.

”(O’Malley, 1992, 254) This movement stresses that different schools of thoughts simultaneously operate on each other through a historical contingency. That because each school effectively paves the way for the next school, that social conditions are changed by the way in which social problems are addressed through theoretical conceptualizations. “Describe and Explain Specific Theory” To understand ‘actuarial’ or risk based technologies of power, O’Malley notes a critical shift “from discourses of control to discourses of security.

”(1992, 254) The ‘punitive’ city is replaced with the ‘risk society. ’(O’Malley, 1992, 254) This is however not to say that the punitive is removed but rather that it is far more subtle and far less overt. Individuals are not specifically targeted but are rather all encouraged as social inhabitants of a social space to manage risk within such a space. No one is free from responsibility and absolutely everyone has a role to play in minimizing the risk for themselves and others in such a space.

The ‘actuarial’ technology is not only a public technology but far more, a ‘private’ and ‘prudent’ technology. (O’Malley, 1992, 257) It is made increasingly clear to everyday people that they benefit from managing risk in their individual social spaces and that they have to move from being beneficiaries of good social policies to being causal agents in increasing the effectiveness of existing policies and formulating new strategic mechanisms for dealing with crime like ‘neighborhood watch programs. ’(O’Malley, 1992, 266) “Describe and Explain Theory Integration”

When a theory is integrated it is “by no means the construct of academic reflection but permeates crime prevention thinking at all levels. ”(O’Malley, 1992, 266) Instead of strictly enforcing boundaries of ’disciplinary’ technologies and their utility. It has been widely believed and established that relying on specific agencies like the police is not enough. The integration of ’actuarial’ management of crime and its establishment of collective agency is so thorough that it is very common for police to actively engage communities in solving crimes.

The public is no longer as much of a ’symbol’ as actual people are really reflecting upon crime and crime prevention and engaging in action to make it a lesser part of their lives and reduce the risk that they’ll be substantially harmed by its emergence and progression. This establishes that integration has truly occurred when ’actuarial’ technologies are cultivated within everyday citizens who engage in cost-benefit behavior regarding crime without even knowing it or knowing it less overtly.

III.I agreed with much of O’Malley’s analysis but found that a main issue was that it didn’t expose as many loose-ends as it could have. Something that was very confusing for me was that the issue of the punitive was not fully fleshed out. I did not know what O’Malley meant by punitive measures getting more and more powerful with no impact on crime when clearly, punitive measures are not creatively re-interpreted.

That is to say, that a lot of times the punitive measures that are used are just enlargements of what is the case, I. e. longer sentences, not more creative sentencing methods. I was not sure why ‘actuarial’ mechanisms have suddenly replaced ‘discipline’ and ‘punish’ mechanisms when there are still a lot of cases of people, individuals, receiving a great deal of discipline and punishment. Also, as societies must reproduce themselves, individuals are exposed to new strategies of discipline and punishment as much as people have to learn how to react to a largely unresponsive and challenging world.

Its not as if human nature has been engineered so that each generation can fully build upon the achievements of a previous generation. Rather that each generation must start with many of the same problems and many of the same issues that the previous generation faced. I would have liked to see a more thorough examination of how different technologies meld together rather than merely replacing each other in a historical continuum. However, overall, this was a very well-researched paper and there was a lot to derive from this article that was extremely fruitful and enlightening.