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Henry and Milovanovic

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Created: July 3, 2004
Latest Update: July 3, 2004

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Index of Topics on Site Constitutive Theory of Criminology
My original source was the Questia Library, which includes the Henry and Milovanovich article on "Constitutive Criminology: Origins, Core Concepts, and Evaluation." Journal article by Stuart Henry, Dragan Milovanovic; Social Justice, Vol. 27, 2000. What I would like to offer here is a general summary of the concepts of the core concepts. For those of you who would like to work with this theory, I recommend Henry and Milovanovic's text.

Henry explains the meaning of constitutive criminology quite well in this article, albeit briefly, as a theoretical approach that resists the duality of blame. Instead of asking what caused the alleged perpetrator to commit a crime, Henry and Milovanovic ask what social context was formed interdependently in the setting through the effect of agency and structure.

"Instead of setting out to identify factors that "cause" offending, constitutive criminology seeks to examine the relations that coproduce crime, as well as ways to intervene in that coproduction to reduce the harms that are its ongoing outcome."

This fits with Quinney's concept of the social definition of crime, yet emphasizes that we are taking "social" beyond the bounds of nurture and environment. We are suggesting that the ways in which individual's exercising of their agency interacts with the entire infrastructure, not just once, when the crime is committed, but in a continuing manner. The interdependence goes way beyond the act itself, both forward and backward in time. Thus, this theory has much to say about both what happens in nurture and development, and what happens once the alleged crime has occurred. . . .

"Constitutive criminology leaves us not in an endlessly deconstructed world, but one in which we acknowledge the constructed nature of the world and the continuous input of energy humans make to maintain it. Constitutive criminology maintains that it is possible to expose, not only the tentative, contingent nature of knowledge and social reality (Butler, 1992), but also to make the politically conscious analysis that some social constructions and ways of constructing reality are more harmful and others are less harmful."

more . . .

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