Publication 4003

Carrier N. (2011) Critical criminology meets radical constructivism. Critical Criminology 19: 331–350. Fulltext at
Critical criminology and radical constructivism are frequently regarded as an impossible pair – or, at least, as a rather schizophrenic one. This is so, notably, because radical constructivism rests on the (paradoxical) abandonment of what Jean-Francois Lyotard named meta-recits. It rests on the refusal to distinguish between the phenomenal and the symbolic, and thus implies the complete vanishing of the classical difference between ontology and epistemology. This would consequently deprive criminology (or, more generally, the social sciences) of any anchoring point enabling a critical utterance. The present contribution’s thesis is that, on the contrary, radical constructivism can catalyze critical criminology. Among the possible contributions of a radically constructivist sociology of criminalization, this paper focuses on: its call for a reworking of the concept of social control, which avoids problems related to its contemporary usage; its focus on power and force, in a way which avoids Foucaultian perspectives’ aporetic elements, and problematizes every instance of legitimized authoritarian practices.

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