LLB Harmful Societies: Crime, Social Harm and Social Justice

Photo of the Human Rights Act and the Union Flag

Module description:

This module engages with core definitional issues and perspectives related to concepts of social harm and social justice, specifically through an examination of the broad range of harms that impact on our lives from the ‘cradle to the grave’. 

Specifically the module will draw from what could broadly be termed Zemiology, the study of social harms. Zemiology originated as a critique of criminology and the notion of crime that serves to focus on 'individual level harms', rather than those that are potentially more injurious resulting from the activities of states and corporations, or social structures.

The module will consist of the following parts:

First, it will explore the concepts of crime and harm, interrogating how these conform to broader philosophies of social justice and visions of a ‘just’ or ‘harm free’ society. Students will be required to consider the core theoretical principles and differing standpoints of what should constitute ‘social harm’. In doing so notions of ‘intentional’, ‘foreseeable’ and ‘preventable’ harms will be evaluated.

Second, a number of case studies of harm, both national and international, will be deployed to explore theoretical and methodological issues in part one.

Third, comparative harm reduction systems will be explored to understand why the experience of specific harms vary dramatically according to the way societies are organised.