Social & Legal Studies

Sage Publications, Inc.
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Latest documents

  • In the Name of Prevention? Policing ‘Social Dangerousness’ Through Arrest in China

    Over the past half-century, the nexus between risk and prevention has increasingly become a constant preoccupation among many criminal justice regimes around the globe. In China, while the significant rise in crime following the marketization has been envisaged as an important source of risk, a criminal law concept of ‘social dangerousness’ has gained increasing prominence in the country’s crime control, policing and punishment systems. This article aims to shed light on how social dangerousness has been juxtaposed with and informed China’s preventative state through critical inquiry into the police power of arrest. I argue that the recent legal consolidation of social dangerousness as a prerequisite to arrest has enabled this coercive measure to become more preventive in purpose. By creating an ever-expanding purview of arrest, the police become more capable of capturing the largest possible cohort of suspects deemed ‘socially dangerous’. This is exacerbated by the legal opacity and ambiguity of social dangerousness, which allows manipulation and liberal application by police in diverse scenarios. My analysis suggests that the preventive dimension of arrest manifests itself largely as a punitive power, which runs the risk of turning arrest into a ‘punitive-preventive measure’. This will, inevitably, impose the same amount of intrusiveness and harsh treatment on suspects regardless of their risk levels. It is more concerning that the fusion of preventiveness and punitiveness has managed to circumvent close scrutiny of the justification for the preventive end of arrest by failing to see the need for periodic review.

  • The Constitution of Non-Monetary Surplus Values

    The article rebuts the primacy of economic profit in advanced capitalist societies, and submits that the imperative to extract surplus value governs also the law and other social domains and is not merely a product of economic forces. Not only the economy but also the law and other function systems force each of their operations to generate a specific surplus value – but now explicitly non-monetary – beyond its immediate production of meaning. The object of the surplus orientation is the system’s own communication medium – power, truth/reputation, money, and juridical authority. The success of surplus pressures is responsible for the immensely productive forces unleashed in capitalism. However, they demonstrate an excessive ambivalence: immense productivity and its destructive dark side. Similar to the monetary profit pressure in the economy, (auto- and hetero-) destructive tendencies of non-monetary surplus pressures have multiplied in the law and in other areas of life. Political-legal counterstrategies combating the negative side of diverse societal surplus productions could be inspired from Karl Polanyi’s famous concept of false commodities and their replacement by non-market institutions.

  • ‘It Is Not 30 Pesos, It Is 30 Years’: Reflections on the Chilean Crisis: Introduction
  • Book Review: Life Imprisonment from Young Adulthood: Adaption, Identity and Time
  • It’s All or Nothing: Consent, Reasonable Belief, and the Continuum of Sexual Violence in Judicial Logic

    This paper discusses controversies over the reasonable belief in consent defence to sexual assault shared by many common law jurisdictions. The implementation of a ‘reasonable’ belief standard has been heralded as a safeguard against rape myth narratives that endorsed men’s unreasonable but ‘honest’ beliefs in women’s consent. This paper argues that judicial constructions of reasonable belief in consent continue to apply notions of reasonableness abstracted from the social context of women’s experience of sexual violence and disconnected from sociological insights which contextualise both the encounter and jury decisions. Using a feminist sociocultural analysis (Gavey, 2005; Kelly, 1988), the successful appeal in the case of R v Lennox (2018 Queensland, Australia), against his conviction by a jury is discussed. The reasoning in the Lennox appeal reveals that overriding judicial constructions of women as incredible in their communication of non-consent, and the prevailing legal dichotomies of consent, and credibility as ‘all or nothing’, undo the progressive potential of the standard of ‘reasonableness’ in consent law and reinforce the phallocentrism of legal discourse.

  • ‘It’s Torture for the Soul’: The Harms of Image-Based Sexual Abuse

    Beyond ‘scandals’ and the public testimonies of victim-survivors, surprisingly little is known about the nature and extent of the harms of ‘image-based sexual abuse’, a term that includes all non-consensual taking and/or sharing of nude or sexual images. Accordingly, this article examines the findings from the first cross-national qualitative study on this issue, drawing on interviews with 75 victim-survivors of image-based sexual abuse in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. We adopt a feminist phenomenological approach that permits more nuanced and holistic understandings of victim-survivors’ experiences, moving beyond medicalised, trauma-based accounts of harm. Our analysis develops five interconnected accounts of the harms experienced, that we have termed social rupture, constancy, existential threat, isolation and constrained liberty. Our findings shed new light on the nature and significance of the harms of image-based sexual abuse that emphasises the need for more comprehensive and effective responses to these abuses.

  • Queer Temporalities and Transgender Rights: A Hong Kong Case Study

    This article investigates how theoretical explorations of queer time can shed light on our understanding of law. Taking transgender rights in Hong Kong as a case study, it argues that legal judgments can entrench normative temporal structures and impose tropes such as linearity, futurity, and finality onto the life scripts of trans subjects. Through close readings of the Court of Final Appeal decision in W v. Registrar of Marriages and the recent judicial review challenges that have emerged in its aftermath, it demonstrates how the cases exclude transqueer individuals who do not fit into those temporal trajectories from the realm of rights protection. It also suggests ways of thinking about the temporalities of transgender issues differently. The analysis here stages an encounter between law and literary/cultural theory, and provides a new perspective on the current state of transgender rights in Hong Kong.

  • In Ambiguous Times and Spaces: The Everyday Assemblage of Lay Participation to Argentine Courthouses

    Most sociolegal research on juries and other forms of lay participation in criminal justice has been limited to questions of how lay people make decisions. This article proposes expanding this focus through a conceptually and methodologically novel examination of the recent incorporation of lay decision-makers in Argentina’s criminal justice system. Based on fieldwork conducted in the province of Córdoba, the article follows jurors as they enter the courthouses, unsettle normalized everyday practices and spatiotemporal arrangements, and encounter multiple authorities that define their role and legitimate belonging therein. The work of these multiple entities, the article argues, locates jurors in ambiguous situations between public and private spaces of the courthouses, and ultimately accentuate their alterity vis-à-vis legal professionals. Drawing on an ethnographic approach inspired in actor-network theory and on Mariana Valverde’s sociolegal elaborations of Bakhtin’s notion of chronotope, the article looks at this judicial reform as a site for fruitful examination of law’s multiscalar power dynamics, and it argues that legal institutions be investigated as flexible, fragile, and contingent assemblages of practices beyond their official representations.

  • Book Review: Reimagining Administrative Justice: Human Rights in Small Places
  • Book Review: Soviet Judgment at Nuremberg: A New History of the International Military Tribunal after World War II

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