Big Trouble or Little Evils: The Ideological Struggle Over the Concept of Harm

Steve Hall*, Simon Winlow

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
56 Downloads (Pure)


This chapter argues that there has never been a ‘civilising process’ across the course of modernity but an economically functional conversion of harms from physical brutality to socio-symbolic aggression. The subject’s acceptance of core harms can be best explained in a framework of transcendental materialism, with a focus on the process of deaptation, which proliferates harms in the tension between shifting realities and ossified ideologies. The criminalisation of harms is maintained in a state of imbalance by negative ideology, which legitimises the existing spectrum of harms by constantly warning us of the far greater harms we would risk should we instigate a process of transformation. This dominant ideology operates at the core of the criminalisation process, compelling us to regard specific harms as the ‘price of freedom’.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationZemiology
Subtitle of host publicationReconnecting Crime and Social Harm
EditorsAvi Boukli, Justin Kotzé
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9783319763125
ISBN (Print)9783319763118
Publication statusPublished - 9 May 2018

Publication series

NameCritical Criminological Perspectives
ISSN (Print)2731-0604
ISSN (Electronic)2731-0612


Dive into the research topics of 'Big Trouble or Little Evils: The Ideological Struggle Over the Concept of Harm'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this