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Capitalist World-Economy, Globalization, and Violence: Implications for Criminology and Social Justice

NCJ Number
International Criminal Justice Review Volume: 16 Issue: 1 Dated: May 2006 Pages: 24-44
Wayne Gillespie
Date Published
May 2006
21 pages
This article examines the consequences of a neoliberal economic policy on social development and violence in Latin America, particularly in terms of the link between globalization and violence.
The author draws on two theoretical perspectives--the neo-Marxian world-system theory of Wallerstein (1974, 1980, 1989) and the neo-Weberian theory of globalization from Giddens (1981, 1984, 1985, 1990)--to make the argument that globalization and the neoliberal economic policies in Latin America have exacerbated inequalities, poverty, and violence in the region. The author begins by reviewing the theoretical perspectives that seek to explain the increasing globalization of the world-economy. The author offers the example of Latin America as illustration of how the United States has wielded global power in the increasingly global market through mainly economic and nonmilitary means. The author shows how neoliberalism, which is defined as requiring a commitment to the world capitalist economy at the expense of the other institutional dimensions, became the prevailing economic policy in Latin America after the 1982 debt crisis in the region. Evidence is offered that it was these neoliberal economy policies and the process of globalization that exacerbated poverty and income inequality in Latin America, which the author argues will produce social disorganization and violence. This occurs because neoliberal economy policies promote a capitalist global market by reducing spending for social programs and public services, which then requires an increase in state surveillance or the police to maintain the social order that has been threatened by increased poverty and inequalities. Examples of street violence and structural violence against homeless and poor children in Latin America are presented as evidence of the link between the forces of globalization and violence. Implications for social justice are considered, particularly the approaches of social movements, social globalism, and social development. References


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