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Risk, Crime and Gender

NCJ Number
British Journal of Criminology Volume: 42 Issue: 4 Dated: 2002 Pages: 762-781
Wendy Chan; George S. Rigakos
Date Published
20 pages
This article presents a feminist critique of risk theorizing for criminology.
The article critically appraises current theoretical discussions of "risk society" and governmentality with reference to gender, raising questions about the nature of risk for various social groups. Women's negotiation of risk, both in terms of risk taking and risk avoidance, point to an understanding of risk as inherently gendered and not easily universalized. Theorizing risk from a gendered perspective highlights its political nature, challenging the idea of risk as a neutral concept and risk assessment as an intended apolitical actuarial practice of late modernity. The article contends that how women experience risk and how they view such experiences are shaped by the politics of gender. Further, formulations of risk are deeply embedded in gender, race, and class politics, and the narrow conception of risk taken in criminological writings has consequently excluded women's experiences of crime. The article recognizes the multi-faceted nature of risk by arguing that risk does not exist in any absolute sense. Gender intersecting with race and class conditions the very definition and practice of risk. Gender is an expression of risk because, at its core, it represents the opposition of "women" and "men" both as analytic categories and social constructs as well as actors in a universe of potential harms. Notes, references


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