The metamorphosis of the victim of crime: From crime to culture and the implications for justice

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Beck (2015: 81) observes, metamorphosis ‘is proceeding latently, behind the mind walls of unintended side effects, which are being constructed as ‘natural’ and ‘self‐evident’. Thus Beck’s concept of metamorphosis conceives of social change as unnoticed and unacknowledged. Such change is evident in the contemporary ever present invocation of the ‘victim’ in a wide range of different, crime‐soaked circumstances. This paper is concerned to explore this metamorphosis of the ‘victim’ in reflecting on two narratives: the victim narrative and the trauma narrative. The contemporary conflation of these two narratives has led Agamben (1999: 13) to suggest that policy has proceeded as if ‘“testis” (the testimony of a person as a third party in a trial or a law suit) can be conflated with “superstes” (a person who has lived through something and can thereby bear witness to it)’. The paper makes the case that this conflation has consequences for understandings of justice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-16
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Metamorphosis
  • victimhood
  • narratives
  • justice

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