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Revisiting the “Ideal Victim”Developments in Critical Victimology$
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Marian Duggan

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781447338765

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447338765.001.0001

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Towards an inclusive victimology and a new understanding of public compassion to victims: from and beyond Christie’s ideal victim

Towards an inclusive victimology and a new understanding of public compassion to victims: from and beyond Christie’s ideal victim

Chapter:
(p.297) Sixteen Towards an inclusive victimology and a new understanding of public compassion to victims: from and beyond Christie’s ideal victim
Source:
Revisiting the “Ideal Victim”
Author(s):

Jorge Gracia

Publisher:
Policy Press
DOI:10.1332/policypress/9781447338765.003.0018

Victimology is about human suffering, often focusing on the consequences generated by crime and how these affect victims and their lives. It analyzes how society manages pain, so concern about victims’ status and needs are important issues. Yet victimology has an undeserved bad reputation, often being accused of exercising commiseration towards certain victims while forgetting others, or providing excuses for the punitive turn in criminal policy. This chapter argues that another type of victimology is possible. Challenging inadequate understandings of compassion and its limits provides us with a useful tool rooted in public virtue which generates stronger and more accurate victim support. An analysis of victim hierarchies illustrates perceptions of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ victims; those worthy of support and compassion and those that inspire only oblivion or contempt. Further reflection on the ideal victim stereotype present in Nils Christie’s work offers a starting point from which to achieve an inclusive and critical victimology; a victimology that really embraces the conception of useful compassion which is strongly connected with justice as a public virtue in a democratic and decent society. The chapter argues that this may be a way to recover some of the lost prestige of the discipline.

Keywords:   compassion, victimology, vulnerability, victims’ rights, victim support movement, victimhood, ideal victim

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