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SA Crime Quarterly

On-line version ISSN 2413-3108
Print version ISSN 1991-3877


DIXON, Bill. Andrew Faull and Sindiso Mnisi Weeks. SA crime q. [online]. 2018, n.64, pp.55-59. ISSN 2413-3108.

'Don't judge a book by its cover,' as the saying goes. At first glance, a book about the working lives and professional identities of members of the South African Police Service (SAPS) might seem to have little in common with a study of the role of 'traditional' forums in securing access to justice and human security. What does a conventional ethnography of the police - constitutionally mandated state agents and gatekeepers to the criminal justice system - share with groundbreaking work on informal bodies with uncertain legal status and only loose connections with mainstream institutions? A more careful reading of these two fascinating new books suggests that, on closer inspection, they are concerned with similar questions, albeit posed and answered in rather different ways. Both books have much to tell us not just about how individuals and institutions respond to troublesome behaviour but also about why some problems and disputes (but not others) come to be defined as crime and dealt with by the state, its police and the formal structures of criminal justice.

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