Framing meaning through criminalization: A test for the theory of criminalization

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Contemporary legal scholarship on criminalization focuses on evaluating the legitimacy of legislative decisions according to abstract standards of justice. In recent years, socio-legally oriented scholarship has attempted to do away with this focus by linking the theory of criminalization to the study of the real trends of criminal law enforcement. The article offers a critique of both approaches in what refers to the traditional area of application of the theory of criminalization, namely symbolic criminalization. It argues that whereas traditional papers discuss the legitimacy of the " enforcement of morality" through the criminal law, symbolic criminalization conflicts actually originate in disputes about meaning in plural societies. The real question that this phenomenon poses is thus not whether the enforcement of neutral morality is legitimate, but rather whether meaning framing through criminalization is.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-33
Number of pages31
JournalNew Criminal Law Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2019


  • criminalization
  • harm principle
  • legal moralism
  • legislation
  • symbolic conflict


Dive into the research topics of 'Framing meaning through criminalization: A test for the theory of criminalization'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this