Just Sociology

Understanding Post-Modernism and its Complex Relationship with Crime

Post/Late Modernism is a concept that emerged in the later part of the 20th century as a new way to understand and interpret the changes that have been taking place in society over the past few decades. The post-modern approach to society and culture can be characterized by several key features, including the rejection of grand narratives, the domination of consumerism, the proliferation of new forms of communication technology and the rise of global interconnectedness.

This article will explore the relationship between post-modernism and crime and delve into the complexities of crime in the modern era.

Relationship between Consumerism and Crime (Robert Reiner)

In the age of consumer society, where materialism is dominant and neoliberal policies have led to increased inequality, property crime is particularly pervasive. Robert Reiner, a prominent criminologist, argues that the relationship between materialism and property crime is causal.

As people place more value on material possessions, there is a corresponding increase in theft and other property crimes. In a consumer society, where ownership is intertwined with identity, the connections between materialism and crime are particularly strong.

The Vertigo of Late Modernity (Jock Young)

Another post-modernist criminologist, Jock Young, theorizes that the vertigo of late modernity has created a particularly uncertain and insecure world, which encourages individuals to engage in edgework, especially night-time violence. Young argues that the cultural shift toward anomie and uncertainty has led people to seek out a variety of risky activities, including violent crimes.

He explains that as societies become more complex and structured, these changes lead to increased crime rates.

Consequences of Globalisation for Crime

The increased interconnectedness made possible through global flows has transformed crime and deviance in many ways. The proliferation of drug crime, people trafficking, and cybercrime are just some of the major examples of how globalisation has impacted crime.

These issues are particularly significant as they have impacted migrant communities and have contributed to the rise of inequality across the globe. The development of global risk consciousness has also significantly increased fear among citizens around the world.

Rise of Cyber Crime

One area of crime that has seen rapid expansion is cyber crime. This form of crime encompasses all criminal activities that are carried out using the internet or other digital devices.

Cybercrime is not only a growing problem, but also a complex one due to the constantly evolving nature of the internet and associated technologies. Common types of cybercrime include fraud and cyber-stalking as well as cyber attacks, such as hacks and data breaches.

Positive Evaluations

Post/Late Modern theories offer a significant improvement over their predecessors in understanding the changes in crime in modernity. These theories allow a deeper examination of the underlying causes of crime and offer greater insight into the relationship between crime and the broader environment in which it occurs.

By understanding the social and cultural changes that are a part of late modernity, policy makers and practitioners alike can design effective strategies and policies to combat crime.

Negative Evaluations

Despite the potential of post-modernist theories to enhance criminological understanding, there are negative implications as well. These theories can be criticized for being too general and not providing enough specific information about the causes of crime.

The complexity of multiple factors that contribute to deviant behavior also creates a challenge for understanding the relationship between crime and social context. Additionally, some believe that post-modernist theories lack novelty and only repackage older theories in a new guise.


Post/Late Modernism provides a theoretical framework that can help us better understand crime in the modern era. The complex changes that have taken place in the world of the 21st century have led to new forms of crime and deviance, which in turn have led to the need for new theoretical frameworks.

The post-modernist view of society and culture allows us to explore the relationships between crime and the broader social context in which it occurs. The implications of these theories are significant, from informing policy and practice, to helping us comprehend the issues that form the foundation of a more comprehensive and effective criminal justice system.

As the world continues to change rapidly, there is a growing need to understand the changing nature of crime. The post-modern approach to the study of crime has been particularly useful in providing new insights into the complex relationships between a variety of different factors that contribute to deviant behaviour.

This expansion will provide an assessment of the usefulness of post-modern theories for understanding crime by exploring the role of economic inequalities and globalisation in this context. The first area that post-modern theories of crime have been particularly insightful is the ways in which economic inequalities contribute to criminal behavior.

Economic inequality, which is a central feature of post-modern society, has a significant impact on the lives of individuals and is related to different forms of crime. Robert Merton’s strain theory argues that individuals who are unable to achieve social and economic success may be more inclined to engage in deviant behaviour.

Post-modernist criminologists, such as Jock Young, have built on this theoretical approach, arguing that anomie caused by economic inequalities can lead to different forms of criminal behavior. Young explains that the strain of living in a society that values financial success and individualism creates a sense of rootlessness and in turn heighten the likelihood of engaging in deviant behavior.

Furthermore, the rise of globalisation has had significant implications for the ways in which crime is carried out in the post-modern era. The proliferation of global networks and flows has been particularly influential in transforming the nature of crime, as it has made it easier to conduct a range of criminal activities on a transnational level.

The increased interconnectedness of global communities has created new opportunities for individuals to profit from illegal activities, such as drugs trafficking, people trafficking, piracy, cybercrime and terrorism. The impact of globalisation on crime has also been significant as it has contributed to the development of global risk consciousness.

Risk consciousness refers to the sense of fear and anxiety experienced by individuals who are aware of the real or perceived threats posed by crime in the world today. This heightened sense of fear and anxiety is particularly prevalent among communities that are most impacted by the global flows that contribute to crimes.

Citizens living in economically deprived and socially marginalized communities are more likely to experience a sense of insecurity and vulnerability given the link between economic and social disadvantage and criminal victimization. This is evidenced by the high levels of crime that have arisen in many economically disadvantaged urban areas.

Post-modern theories have proved useful as they take into account the various changes occurring simultaneously in todays society. The theories encompass economic, cultural and political changes which contribute to the creation of a more complex society.

The complexity of post-modern society has significant implications for understanding crime as it means that there are various factors that need to be taken into consideration to understand criminal behavior. By exploring a variety of causes, post-modernist criminologists help to develop a more comprehensive understanding of the different factors that intersect to produce crime and criminal behaviors.

However, there are some criticisms about post-modern theories which caution against their overreliance in this area. Some theorists argue that post-modernisms emphasis on the complexity of social, cultural, and economic change is not specific enough in identifying the causal connections between changes and crime.

There are also concerns about the tendency for post-modernist theories to be excessively general and may not provide concerete solutions to combat the problem of crime. However, it is important to note that these criticisms are part of the wider debate within criminology about the usefulness of theory and the best ways to measure its effectiveness.

In conclusion, post-modernist theories of crime and deviance provide a valuable framework for understanding the complex ways in which different social, cultural, and economic factors interact to contribute to criminal behavior. They allow us to explore the intricate connections between crime and the broader social context in which it occurs.

This includes the relationship between economic inequalities and criminal behaviour, the ways in which globalisation has impacted crime, and how exposure to global flows is exacerbating the risk consciousness and fear amongst communities. While there are some criticisms of post-modern theories, they offer considerable value in understanding the breadth of issues driving deviance in our modern world.

Ultimately, understanding the diversity of influences on criminal behavior is vital to improving policy, practice and implementation of successful interventions and solutions to break the cycle of crime around the world. In conclusion, the post-modernist approach to understanding crime and deviance has proven to be a valuable framework for exploring the complex and interconnected factors that contribute to criminal behavior in the modern era.

Economic inequalities, globalisation, and the multiplicity of social, cultural, and political changes that characterise post-modern society are all factors that require exploration and understanding if we are to improve policy, practice, and intervention to effectively combat crime.


Q: What is post-modernism?

A: It is an approach to understanding society and culture that emphasizes the complexity and diversity of changes occurring in the post-modern era, such as globalisation and the proliferation of new forms of communications technology. Q: How do economic inequalities contribute to crime?

A: Research has shown that economic inequalities and the inability to achieve social and economic success can lead to anomie that increases the likelihood of deviant behavior. Q: What is the impact of globalisation on crime?

A: Globalisation has increased the interconnectedness of people and created new opportunities for transnational criminal activities, such as drugs trafficking, cybercrime and terrorism.

Q: What is the significance of post-modern theories in understanding crime?

A: Post-modernist theories allow for a deeper examination of the underlying causes of crime and offer greater insight into the relationship between crime and the broader environment in which it occurs. Q: What criticisms do post-modern theories of crime face?

A: Some criticism of post-modernisms emphasis on complexity is the lack of specificity regarding causal connections between changes and crime, while others argue that they may not provide concrete solutions to combat the problem of crime.

Popular Posts