Societal sensitivity regarding victims in the UK has grown in recent decades. In the UK new policies and legislation have emerged at all levels in the criminal justice system with the aim of putting the victim at the centre of the criminal justice process.
This is happening at the same time as UK governments seek to address social issues relating to 'other' victims, for example, migrants, refugees, the homeless and the unemployed. Many question the public and social support provided to these victims arguing that they are unessentially 'undeserving'.
This module explores and compares the criminological research about victims, deserving of public compassion and support, with the social policy literature about how societies identify who is deserving of such support and who is not. It analyses how and why "victims" and "scroungers" are constructed, and how and why policies towards both evolve over time. We relate both areas to dominant political ideologies, such as neo-liberalism, conservatism and social democracy.
Aims and Objectives
Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:
- Be able to relate discourse and policies about victims and the deserving/undeserving to dominant political ideologies (e.g. conservatism, neoliberalism, social democracy).
- Be able to demonstrate the ways that the media and policy represent victims.
- Be able to assess the benefits and drawbacks of different types of justice (criminal, procedural and restorative) for victims.
- Know the literature around "deservedness" in social policy. How and why have distinctions been made between the deserving and the undeserving? You will be able to identify these different types of social policies.
- Be familiar with examples of the policy split between deserving and undeserving recipients of benefits (e.g. migrants, refugees, the unemployed).
- Know the literature around victim-status attribution, and whether constituting a victim is as simple as being on the receiving end of harm.
The module is divided into three parts. The first part focuses on how the "ideal victim" (Spalek 2006) is publicly defined. We explore the popular representation of victims and the ways that it may be problematic. On this basis we reflect on recent policy changes within the criminal justice system that attempt to provide greater power (or at least greater satisfaction) to the victim of crime. This section compares restorative, procedural and other victim-oriented changes in criminal justice, to explore to what extent these changes have actually improved the treatment of victims in criminal justice.
The second part of the module explores the circumstances in which governments and social policies distinguish between those deserving of government benefits and those who do not. We explore the politics of such policy activity.
In the third part we relate how victims and the deserving / undeserving are seen and treated in the context of the dominant UK political ideologies. For example, we place the victim and the undeserving "scrounger" in the context of neoliberalism, which placed greater responsibility on citizens to identify their personal risk and protect themselves. We explore the implications of such narratives.
Learning and Teaching
Teaching and learning methods
The module will be delivered by a series of 15 one hour lectures and 4 two hour tutorials.
|Preparation for scheduled sessions||32|
|Wider reading or practice||30|
|Completion of assessment task||65|
|Total study time||150|
Resources & Reading list
Bottoms, A., Roberts, J.V. (2011). Hearing the Victim: Adversarial Justice, Crime Victims and the State. Abingdon: Routledge.
Walklate, S. (2007). Handbook of Victims and Victimology. Cullompton: Willan Publishing.
Davis, P., Francis, P., Greer, C. (2007). Victims, Crime and Society. London: Sage.
Kemshall, H.(eds.) (2012). Crime and Social Policy. Wiley.
Katz, M.B. (2013). The Undeserving Poor: America's Enduring Confrontation With Poverty:Fully Updated and Revised. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Spalek, B. (2006). Crime Victims: Theory, Policy adn Practice. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Summative assessment description
Referral assessment description
Repeat type: Internal & External