Academic Year 2010-2011
Susanne Krasmann, is Professor of Sociology at the Institute for Criminological Research, University of Hamburg. She studied sociology, economics, social history and Spanish studies at the Universities of Hamburg and Madrid (Complutense) and was a Visiting Research Fellow at Goldsmiths College, University of London, and the Center of Criminology, University of Toronto. Her main research areas are currently: Governing security and transformations in the “rule of law”; political and sociological theory; the social acceptance of governmental technologies as a question of visibility. She has published widely on shifts in criminological theory and technologies of crime control; the relation between state, law and violence, and in particular “torture and ‘the rule of law.’”
Blurring Boundaries: Governing Security, Democracy, and the Law
Punishment is not only a kind of reaction to crime, but traditionally also implies preventive elements, e.g. symbolic deterrence or rehabilitative measures. If crime control and criminal justice systems have undergone radical transformation in recent decades in the West, this is not only in the sense of more severe sentencing laws or a penal populism becoming apparent form time to time. A main, and indeed, ever pervasive feature, rather, is the government of security, transgressing and blurring established boundaries such as those between domestic and national security policy, for example. Governing in the name of security, on the one hand, is a core element of modern statehood and, in particular, of liberalism, and the general competition between liberty or (human) rights and security thus forms a familiar topic, mostly tackled as a question of balance. This perspective, on the other hand, falters in the light of the transforming power the government of security embodies, both in respect of law and, of social perception. We thus witness, this is the underlying argument of this research, a fundamental epistemological shift in the traditional field and concepts of criminology. A rationality of precaution, in particular, enables forms of “pre crime”-intervention countering well established principles of the rule of law as well as, for example, the common distinction between repression and prevention.
From an epistemological perspective, research focuses on the “logics” of governing security: What kind of knowledge is being produced, generating certain definitions of problems and fields of governmental intervention in the first place, and connecting with certain techniques and procedures themselves capable of producing new realities, that is objects and subjects of government? How is social acceptance towards the implementation of new norms and the extension of governmental power being created, and how do strategies of justification in the field of punishment, of the proviso of social and physical security differ – and intermingle, replacing or inciting each other mutually? Within an epistemological perspective, acceptance is not only a question of legitimization to be analyzed on the level of a symbolic order but rather has to be conceived as the outcome of rationalities of government themselves forming certain regimes of visibility thereby shaping perceptions. If law is particularly susceptible to issues of security, transformations of the rule of law through the government of security thus may be understood as being nothing less than the formation of a new self-conception of liberal democratic societies.