n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Crime as dis-ease : towards an Epidemiological Criminology of the social body

Volume 25, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



Epidemiological Criminology (EpiCrim) represents an evolving multidisciplinary perspective which seeks to bring together scholars from criminology and the public health fields for the purpose of formulating an integrative understanding of crime and criminality (among other social ills). As the name implies, Epidemiological Criminology employs a variety of medical model metaphors by which to formulate its theoretical perspective. However, such a formulation is potentially threatened by the use of literal medical model conceptualisations that serve to restrict the theoretical possibilities of this approach. For example, by formulating crime as a disease of the social body, it fails to recognise that crime or criminal behaviour is symptomatic of an internal dysfunction and not proof of an external contagion. By re-contextualising this approach within a phenomenological frame of reference, the powerful conceptualisations employed by EpiCrim can be removed from an overly literalised presentation and their metaphorical implications more thoroughly explored. Using ancillary micro (Trayvon Martin) and macro (MS-13) illustrations, the utility and variability of EpiCrim is suggested.

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