The Postmodern Turn in Criminology

Much of contemporary criminology remains bound to concepts and perspectives developed and framed in relation to conditions of modernity (even the emergence of modernity) and the structures, institutions, and processes of modernism. Among these concepts are rationality (rational choice and rational calculation), progress, and enlightenment—deterrence and correctivity.

The modernist criminologies remain dependent on instituted authorities and their organizations—police, courts, correctional facilities, legislatures—for definitions and understandings of crime, criminality, and responses to crime. Processes associated with liberal democratic governance are viewed as proper (and privileged) means for adjudicating social norms and responses to violations of norms. Agencies of the police, courts, and corrections are viewed as the legitimate institutions for the pursuit of—the realization of—“criminal justice.”

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