Communities, identities and crime by Basia Spalek

By Basia Spalek

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Williams, B. (1999) Working with victims of crime, London: Jessica Kingsley. Woodward, K. Woodward (ed) Identity and difference, London: Sage, pp 7–62. Young, J. (1999) The exclusive society, London: Sage. This is perhaps unsurprising, given that contemporary western societies are characterised by inequality (Thompson, 1998) and, moreover, are underpinned by modernity’s ‘imperative of order’ with the concomitant belief that, with the application of the correct kinds of policies and procedures, progress can be made in relation to eliminating/reducing inequalities and oppression.

Begg shows me pictures of gang members, most of them wiry with precocious moustaches, dead ringers for Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott. Begg is at the corner of the picture, smiley and tiny. That was another problem – his size. There is another boy towards the opposite corner, bigger, cooler, charismatic. That’s Sigi, a German Asian, a hard-nut, a negotiator, and Begg’s best friend. Like many in the gang, he got into drugs and petty crime, and by his early 20s he was dead, having suffocated on his own vomit.

9 Continual harassment and abuse can lead to the gradual emergence of new aspects of self, which can coexist with more familiar constructions of self, influencing everyday behaviour and experiences. In contrast to the ‘victim as survivor’ identity that is mass marketed within western society, whereby victims are portrayed as individuals who have become ‘stronger’,‘better’ people as a result of their experiences (Spalek, 2006a), the process of victimisation can bring forth new aspects of self that victims dislike and which may cause them much pain and distress.

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