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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 70054 Find in a Library
Title: Praxis and Radical Criminology in the United States (From Radical Criminology, P 161-168, 1980, by James A Inciardi - See NCJ-70047)
Author(s): E H Johnson
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 8
Sponsoring Agency: Sage Publications, Inc
Thousand Oaks, CA 91320
Sale Source: Sage Publications, Inc
2455 Teller Road
Thousand Oaks, CA 91320
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Marxist 'praxis,' the unity between theory and practice, is problematic for the development of radical criminology and for the expansion of its membership in the U.S.
Abstract: The practical questions encountered in criminology can be clarified by theory, but this clarification must proceed through communication among members of the general public; i.e., the proletariat are to be encouraged to see that the existing order controls them against their own interests through engendering a 'false consciousness' of reality. Critical theory is an instrument for revealing how official myths maintain this false consciousness. The task of critical theory is to anticipate and apprehend the future course of human evolution, but the validity of theory can be realized only through enlightenment of the people. Praxis through strategic action is more likely to benefit a radical cause in the short run when a nonradical constituency perceives a power elite applying the suppressive tactics reaching beyond political legitimacy. However, the central difficulty with such conflict is its short life; rancor and emotionalism are inferior foundations for persistent cooperation essential to orderly implementation of new arrangements. Conflict risks the destruction of broad plans appropriate for a complex social system. Anticorrectionalism further breaks the theory-praxis linkage, by plunging radical criminology into the swamp of subjectivism through avoiding criminal action, by abstaining from rigorous inquiry into the concrete nature and meaning of crime, and by aborting the process of enlightenment whereby the false consciousness of correctionalism would be unhinged. Americans are difficult to recruit because they are issue oriented and because a radical stance would require an intensity of commitment many are not willing to make. Reform liberalism, while assuming a more limited responsibility for improving the world, shares a wider spectrum of activities and interests found in a diversified urban life and may attract more participants. For related documents, see NCJ 70048-53 and 70055-62. Eighteen references are provided.
Index Term(s): Criminology; Radical criminology; Ticket fixing
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