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The role of "pro-black" criminalization policy in enabling and constraining the mobilization of egalitarian racial reform, US 1669-2008.

Aharonson, Ely (2009) The role of "pro-black" criminalization policy in enabling and constraining the mobilization of egalitarian racial reform, US 1669-2008. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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In the early 1980s, the American legal system introduced a novel legislative model for tackling the age-old problem of racist violence. Within less than three decades, this novel legislative model was adopted by 47 states across the US, and was 'imported' by dozens legal systems around the globe. Legislatures and advocacy organizations portray the introduction of hate crime laws as an effective instrument for minimizing the disproportionate vulnerability of racial minorities to criminal victimization Scholars have praised their virtues in symbolizing the commitment of the state to providing racial minorities with equal concern and respect. Yet there is something curious, even paradoxical, about the deployment of criminalization - a coercive form of governance so often associated with the perpetuation of structural disadvantage - with such emancipatory ends. This study considers how the embedding of hate crime policies within institutional and political structures which reflect broader patterns of racial and class inequality affect their suitability to achieve their declared emancipatory aims. In pursuing this goal, I place hate crime policies within broader historical and theoretical perspectives. Historically, I consider the way in which the idea of "pro-black" criminalization has been framed and institutionalized from the slavery era to the present. Theoretically, I explore a range of sociological and socio-legal questions regarding the distinctive institutional and ideological functions played by "pro- minority" criminalization regimes. I define ''pro-black" (or "pro-minority") criminalization as comprising of legislative and enforcement arrangements that are specifically aimed at protecting African-Americans (or other minority groups). My analysis shows that, throughout most of American history, "pro-black" criminalization regimes (including hate crime policies) were embedded within broader policy structures which worked to stabilize fundamental aspects of the prevailing system of racial stratification. This pattern was rooted in institutional and ideological features that are likely to characterize "pro-minority" criminalization reforms in various other contexts of social inequality. Overall, I argue, while "pro- minority" criminalization reforms serve to alleviate particular forms of violence and degradation which minorities are disproportionately subjected to, they also work to stabilize the broader systems of social inequality within which these symptoms are embedded.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Sociology, Criminology and Penology, Black Studies, History, United States
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses

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