Victims and Victimology, 2012/13: Week 7: Radical victimology

Despite victimology's apparent success in influencing policy in favour of the victim, there exists weaknesses in the theories of which victimology is based upon. Firstly, positivist victimology can be considered to assume the identity of victims as self-evident, without acknowledging the construction of the 'ideal victim' for example (Dignan, 2005:33). Also, positivism concentrates on the scientific nature of victimology, but the perception of what is 'scientific' has become debatable, making the foundations of the theory unstable (Walklate, 2007b:115). Similarly, radical victimology can be considered to be based on the same conception of science as positivist victimology and so suffer from the same weakness (Walklate, 2007b:117). Also, it can be argued that it is limited as it concentrates its analysis of the processes of victimisation on the social classes, whilst ignoring other factors, for example, race, age and gender (Dignan, 2005:34). On the other hand, critical victimology can be seen to highlight the importance of "historical and cultural contexts in shaping victimising practices" and our feelings towards them, and due to this, critical victimology acknowledges that "concepts such as 'victim' and 'victimisation' are contested" and not universal (Dignan,2005:35). As discussed previously, the issues with the concept of the 'victim' are almost overwhelming, and so the fact critical victimology at least acknowledges these issues helps bring on a potential process of resolution. Although there are profound issues with positivist and radical victimology, it seems that critical victimology has its strengths which one could argue provides a degree of stability for the field of study of victimology.

Victimology, Radical Victimology, and Critical Victimology

In crossing from the realm of criminology and radical victimology to the realm of feminist victim activism, we find rather different versions of the word 'victim'. In general, the relationship between feminism and the word 'victim' is extremely complex. On the one hand, feminism serves to remind women of their capacities for positive action and agency (or, to put it another way, to construct women as the bearers of these capacities). On the other hand, feminism aims to examine, critique and oppositionally counter the variety of ways in which women are constituted as passive non-agents in relation to men. The moral purchase of 'victim' can be irresistible politically, but at the same time calling oneself, or all women, or some women, 'victims' in the classic sense of the term can cede agency, court misrepresentation, and reaffirm a chillingly familiar image of feminine weakness. This last objection-the reaffirmation of weakness-is particularly significant to feminist victim activist definitions of the word 'victim', and the well known predilection for an alternative word, 'survivor.' For some, 'victim' simply denotes the dead: sufferers of fatal abuse. In accord with this, a 'survivor' is one who literally survives abuse. For others, 'victim' refers to "those who blame themselves, carry shame, or continue to let others victimise them". Here, a victim is one whose momentary victimisation has become an abiding aspect of their self-identity and social being. A victim's 'allowance' of further victimisation is linked to having blamed herself for her original victimisation. Self-blame lends victim identity a self-perpetuating character and makes victimhood a kind of mire one must work to escape. I will concentrate on this second definition of victim, and on the version of 'survivor' with which it is generally paired.


FREE Feminism, Positivism, and Radical Victimology Essay

Key Phrase page for radical victimology: Books containing the phrase radical victimology

Source: (1992) Crime & Delinquency. 38(2):258-271.Traditional victimology has not yet tapped the potential of radical criminology to assist in the explanation of social reactions to crime and crime victims. From the theoretical perspective of the radial framework it is possible to explore society's preference for truly innocent victims and the limited ability of the system to avenge them (i.e. through victim assistence programs). Other avenues for the analysis of this perspective include the role of the victim in furthering the intrests of police and prosecution agencies as well as the media and capital business enterprises. A radical victimological approach can also be used to analyze the extended vitimization of the offender's family by the crimminal justice system.