chapter  1
11 Pages

Critical political economy, crime and justice

WithRobert Reiner

This chapter reviews the meanings of political economy, followed by analysis of its historical influence in criminology. Critical political economy argues that problems of crime and criminal justice are related to injustice in the political economy of a society. Political economy was intertwined closely with the "science of police", a vast body of work that flourished across eighteenth-century Europe. Whilst realism questioned political economy, it has been associated with a resurgence of studies of the economics of crime. It also heralded a revival of neo-classical rational choice perspectives. In the 1990s some "Left Realists" returned to macro-analyses of the relationship between crime, criminal justice, culminating in a flourishing "ultra-realism". The commission of crime requires specific personal and technical resources. Changes in political economy, culture and technology expand or contract the means of crime. The crime drop literature considers the role of some economic factors, but less meticulously than their analysis of criminal justice and social hypotheses.