Diana R. Gordon



Side by Side: Neoliberalism and Crime Control in Post-Apartheid South Africa

Diana Gordon examines the pressures at work in South Africa’s painful capitulation to neoliberal doctrine and simultaneous embrace of “get-tough” crime-control strategies, many imported directly from the U.S. Gordon questions, not the link between neoliberalism and a bloated criminal justice apparatus, but “what influences have favored the punitive trend” over more benign alternatives such as reparative probation and community service. Gordon concludes that the shift to neoliberalism creates a penumbra of influences that includes an imperative for harsh, state-centered social control. In South Africa, the ANC is pressured by popular demands to “do something” about rampant crime. Yet it is precluded from addressing the crime problem in a meaningful way by its own macroeconomic policies. Unable to deliver on its pledge to build social and economic equity, a tarnished government shores up authority with spectacular crackdowns on “thugs and predators,” which is guaranteed to grab headlines.

crime control — post-apartheid South Africa; criminal justice — South Africa; political parties — South Africa — African National Congress; South Africa — economic policy; South Africa — neoliberalism

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 28, No. 3 (2001): 57-67