The role of recognition in the desistance process: A case analysis of a former far-right activist

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This article explores the intersubjective dynamics that foster desistance from crime. It explains that the concepts of ‘identification’ and ‘recognition’—as defined by Jessica Benjamin—illuminate how psychic change can come about despite social continuity within offenders’ lives. The value of Benjamin's approach is illustrated through the analysis of the case of a former far-right activist. The article shows that in order to desist from crimes that involve a symbolic ‘othering’ (e.g. hate crimes) offenders have to reclaim the psychic parts of themselves that are projected onto victims. The article concludes that when those deemed ‘other’ are able to withstand and survive hostile projections the possibilities for psychic change among desisting offenders are enhanced.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-202
Number of pages24
JournalTheoretical Criminology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2006