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International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy

Theorising Criminalisation: The Value of a Modalities Approach


‘Criminalisation’ has attracted considerable scholarly attention in recent years, much of it concerned with identifying the normative limits of criminal law-making. Starting from the position that effective theorisation of the legitimate uses of criminalisation as a public policy tool requires a robust empirical foundation, this article introduces a novel conceptual and methodological approach, focused on recognising a variety of modalities of criminalisation. The first part of this article introduces and explains the modalities approach we have developed. The second part seeks to demonstrate the utility of a modalities approach by presenting and discussing the findings of a pilot study of more than 100 criminal law statutes enacted in three Australian jurisdictions (New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria) between 2012 and 2016. We conclude that a modalities approach can support nuanced examination of the multiple ways in which adjustments to the parameters of criminalisation are effected. We draw attention to the complexity of the phenomenon of criminalisation, and highlight the need for further quantitative and qualitative work that includes longer-term historical analysis.

Pages:91 to 121
Section: Articles


Total Abstract Views: 741  Total PDF Downloads: 473

Author Biographies

University of New South Wales
Australia Australia

Professor Luke McNamara is Co-Director of the Centre for Crime, Law and Justice, Faculty of Law, University of New South Wales, Australia. His current research examines the patterns, drivers, modalities and effects of criminalisation as a public policy tool, with a focus on regulation of behaviours and activities in public places.

Queensland University of Technology
Australia Australia

Professor Russell Hogg has published widely in the areas of criminology and criminal justice studies, including Policing the Rural Crisis (Federation Press, 2006, co-authored with Kerry Carrington) and Critical Criminology: Issues, Debates, Challenges (Willan, 2002, co-edited with Kerry Carrington). He is also co-editor of a forthcoming collection of essays on crime in rural Australia.

Open Access Journal
ISSN 2202-8005