Social Representations of Homicide Investigations by Judges, Prosecutors and Police: A Case Study from the Metropolitan Area of Brasilia


This article examines homicide in the Metropolitan Area of Brasilia (MAB), analysing social representations from elites in the criminal justice system, including police chiefs, prosecutors and judges. It draws on the theory of social representations (TSR) to explore the imaginaries constructed around the criminal justice system’s inability to adequately investigate the rise in homicides. The representations from focus group participants highlight a lack of resources, infrastructure, equipment and human resources, as well as unsatisfactory working conditions. In seeking to understand and situate themselves in new realities and contexts, these elite criminal justice actors ultimately place themselves within the available reserve of knowledge, in which they claim that ‘nothing works’. Hence, this enables these powerful actors to justify themselves and blame others, while denying their inability to adequately investigate homicides. A hidden rationale emerges that represents the homicide victims of drug crimes and gang feuds as unworthy of investigation.

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Except where otherwise noted, content in this journal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Published: 2019-02-18
Pages:85 to 99
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Author Biographies

University Center of Brasília [UniCEUB]

PhD in  Legal-criminal sociology from the University of Barcelona. Post-doctoral degree in sociology from the University of Brasilia. Associate researcher in the Department of Sociology of the University of Brasilia. Professor on the undergraduate degree and Masters and PhD programs in law at Uniceub (Brasilia). Professor at the Fundação Escola Superior do MPDFT (criminal policy, criminal law and criminology). Professor on the PhD program in criminal sciences at the San Carlos University (Guatemala). Prosecutor in Brasilia. (SQSW 302, C, 506. Brasília—DF. 70673-203. Brasil) 55-61-99965-7477.

University of Brasilia

PhD in sociology from the University of Montreal, with a post-doctoral qualification in sociology from the Centre d’ Étude de la Vie Politique Française—CEVIPOF. Full Professor within the Department of Sociology at the University of Brasilia. Coordinator and researcher at the Study Center for Violence and Security (NEVIS) of the University of Brasilia. Researcher and Coordinator for the Federal District of the INCT Democracy, Violence and Citizen Security. Emeritus professor of Sociology at UnB.