Affective versus effective justice: instrumentalism and emotionalism in criminal justice

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This article argues that if crime prevention policies are to succeed in the political or public spheres they must address some of the deeper emotional or affective dimensions of crime and its place in society. While crime prevention remains a predominantly ‘rationalist’ approach to criminal policy it will fail to compete successfully with the more emotive law and order policies which tend to resonate with the public and which appear to meet deep-seated psychological and affective needs. It suggests that crime prevention can address the three core elements that must make up a response to crime: the instrumental, the emotional and the production of social cohesion. It outlines a range of values and symbols which crime prevention may tap into in order to meet some of the affective dimensions of criminal justice policy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-278
Number of pages14
JournalPunishment & Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • crime prevention
  • Durkheim
  • emotion
  • public opinion
  • punishment
  • sentencing

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