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Tony Kearon

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We Have Never Been Liberal — Bourgeois Identity and the Criminal(ized) Other

This article examines the ways in which, from the mid-19th century onwards, sections of the emerging professional managerial class re-imagined and re-presented the subaltern other as an integral part of the construction of a defensible “liberal” middle-class identity. It identifies two distinct stages in the relationship between middle-class liberal identity and the criminal(ized)other. Initially, this “identity work” was predicated on the existence of a suitably deviant (and suitably redeemable) other as the subject of notionally inclusive/reformist project. The other has come to be used as a source of oppositional identities and cultural practices. In both stages, the other has been constructed in a manner that both re-inscribes the subaltern other as deviant, and ignores the complexities of the lived experiences of socially and economically marginal groups.

liberal identity, Otherness, criminalization

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 32, No. 1 (2005): 5-19.

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