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Distributed for University of British Columbia Press

What Is a Crime?

Defining Criminal Conduct in Contemporary Society

We all have notions of what it means to commit a crime. Most of us are very much aware of the behaviours which, by law, constitute crime. Rarely, however, do we stop to consider why certain activities and behaviours are deemed criminal and others are not.

What Is A Crime? examines how we define criminal conduct in contemporary society, and how we respond to it once it has been identified.

Drawing from diverse scholarly traditions, including law, sociology, criminology and socio-legal studies, this rich collection of essays looks at the processes of defining crime and considers the varied and complex implications of our decisions to criminalize certain unwanted behaviour. From the perspective of various case studies, the contributors reflect on the social processes that inform definitions of crime, criminal law, and its enforcement, while illuminating the subjective nature of crime and questioning the role of law in dealing with complex social issues.

What Is A Crime? will be of interest to a broad spectrum of readers with an interest in the governance of crime and its control in contemporary society. Students and scholars of law, sociology, political science, philosophy, and criminology will find this book invaluable in furthering their understanding of the processes of defining and responding to crime and criminal behaviour. It will also hold sway with policymakers, criminal justice practitioners, and anyone with a stake in our current approaches to crime.

224 pages

Legal Dimensions

Table of Contents

Introduction / Nathalie Des Rosiers and Steven Bittle

1 What is a Crime? A Secular Answer / Jean-Paul Brodeur, with Geneviève Ouellet

2 Undocumented Migrants and Bill C-11: The Criminalization of Race / Wendy Chan

3 Crime, Copyright, and the Digital Age / Steven Penney

4 Criminalization in Private: The Case of Insurance Fraud / Richard V. Ericson and Aaron Doyle

5 From Practical Joker to Offender: Reflections on the Concept of "Crime" / Pierre Rainville

6 Poisoned Water, Environmental Regulation, and Crime: Constituting the Non-Culpable Subject in Walkerton, Ontario / Laureen Snider



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