*My warm thanks go to Andrew Ashworth, Jeremy Horder and Lucia Zedner for helpful comments on a draft of this paper. I am also grateful for feedback from Antony Duff, Lindsay Farmer, Sandra Marshall, Massimo Renzo, Victor Tadros and other participants in a seminar forming part of the current AHRC funded project on Criminalisation. The paper was originally written for an MLR-funded seminar on Citizenship and Criminalisation, organised by Ely Aharonson and Peter Ramsay, held at the LSE in December 2008; it was written during my tenure of a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship, and I acknowledge with gratitude the Trust's support.
Historicising Criminalisation: Conceptual and Empirical Issues
Article first published online: 20 OCT 2009
© 2009 The Author. Journal Compilation © 2009 The Modern Law Review Limited
The Modern Law Review
Volume 72, Issue 6, pages 936–960, November 2009
How to Cite
Lacey, N. (2009), Historicising Criminalisation: Conceptual and Empirical Issues. The Modern Law Review, 72: 936–960. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2230.2009.00775.x
- Issue published online: 20 OCT 2009
- Article first published online: 20 OCT 2009
This paper charts a renaissance in scholarly analysis of criminalisation, and suggests that we do not have the conceptual tools or empirical knowledge to make the claims about ‘overcriminalisation’ which motivate much of this scholarship. My argument gives further shape to projects under the umbrella of criminalisation, setting out some of the conceptual issues to be resolved before we can work towards an adequate interpretive, and normative, vision of how criminal law has been and might be used. The paper elaborates a number of projects in ‘criminalisation scholarship’, and suggests there is a failure adequately to distinguish the different senses of ‘criminalisation’ in the literature, or the varying methods which might be applied within historical, interpretive, analytic and normative studies of criminalisation. In conclusion, the paper argues for a certain genre of criminalisation scholarship, and for a multi-disciplinary criminalisation research agenda informed by history, sociology and political science as much as by law, criminology and philosophy.