Left Realism: A Radical Criminology for the Current Crisis


The renewal of the Left realist tradition in criminology is vital for a critical understanding of crime and criminal justice in the context of a dominant neoliberalism. Left Realism presented two core components: the local democratic community control of policing and crime prevention and the analytical ‘square of crime’. Two strategies for renewing the tradition are contrasted: the re-elaboration and updating of the core concepts or the incorporation of new themes – specifically critical realist philosophy – from outside the original paradigm. While these two are not mutually exclusive I argue that most of the proposed critical realist innovations are already present in the core concepts of Left Realism and that it is here, in the focus on struggles for local democracy and in the deconstructive tradition of the ‘square of crime’, that the future for Left Realism lies.

Creative Commons License
Except where otherwise noted, content in this journal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Published: 2016-09-01
Pages:53 to 65
Fetching Scopus statistics
Fetching Web of Science statistics
How to Cite
Lea, J. (2016) “Left Realism: A Radical Criminology for the Current Crisis”, International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 5(3), pp. 53-65. doi: 10.5204/ijcjsd.v5i3.329.

Author Biography

University of Leicester
 United Kingdom

Honorary Professor of Criminology

Department of Criminology