LLB Crime, Social Harm and Social Justice

Photo of the Human Rights Act and the Union FlagModule leader: Dr Simon Pemberton

Module description:

This module engages with core definitional issues and perspectives related to concepts of social harm and social justice, specifically through examination of wider ‘harms’ caused by states and corporations, as well as social structures, and in particular the harms caused by inequality and social exclusion.

Specifically the module draws from what could broadly be termed Zemiology, the study of social harms. Zemiology originated as a critique of criminology and the notion of crime. In contrast with 'individual based harms' such as theft, the notion of social harm or social injury incorporates harms caused by nation states and corporations. These ideas have received increased attention from critical academics such as neo-marxists and feminists who have sought to create an independent field of study, separate from criminology, that studies the harms that affect individuals' lives that are not considered to be criminal or are rarely criminalised such as, poverty and unemployment.Topics covered will include:

Theoretical Issues

  • The inter-relationship between crime, harm and social justice How do varying concepts of crime and harm conform to broader philosophies of social justice
  • An examination of the limitations of the notion of crime and attempts to broaden analyses through the definition of social harm
  • The core theoretical principles and differing standpoints of what should constitute ‘social harm
  • The emergence and philosophical underpinnings of zemiology
  • Understanding concepts of State, Power and the use of ‘crime’ as a regulatory mechanism

Substantive/Methodological Issues

What harms us most? How do we most effectively map criminal vs non-criminal harms?

How should we respond to social harms? These issues will be explored through an examination of specific case studies, such as environmental harm, health and safety deaths and injury and harms of inequality. In doing so, we will address broader issues such as the expansion of the criminal justice system and the demise of the social state as a means to respond to harm