[Ab]Using Power: The Canadian Experience


287 pages
ISBN 1-55266-047-8
DDC 303.3'0971




Edited by Susan C. Boyd, Dorothy E. Chunn, and Robert Menzies
Reviewed by Jeffrey J. Cormier

Jeffrey J. Cormier is an assistant professor of sociology at Queen’s


The 15 chapters that make up this volume come out of a symposium held at
Simon Fraser in 1998. The participants—a mixture of academics,
activists, politicians, legal practitioners, and local community
members—met to address the central issue of the use and abuse of power
in Canadian society. The end result is a direct challenge to mainstream
sociology and criminology that focuses on the various forms of abuse of
power perpetrated against the powerless in society by the Canadian
state, the criminal justice system, and the political, corporate, and
professional elite.

In their introduction, the editors describe the book’s overarching
theoretical framework as critical/feminist criminology. Their goal in
borrowing elements from Marxism and feminism, as well as from the work
of C. Wright Mills, Michel Foucault, and Pierre Bourdieu, is to force a
wholesale rethinking of the concepts of crime and power in Canadian
society. The fixation of the media and the general population on images
and incidents of violent street crime has, they argue, diverted
attention from the ways in which the powerful in society—politicians,
professionals, and corporations—abuse their power and privilege to the
detriment of the powerless. What each of the papers in this collection
attempts to do is to unmask the abuses of power in Canadian society and
suggest ways and methods of resistance. Collectively the authors hope to
provide a meaningful blueprint for social justice and lasting social
change in Canada.

[Ab]Using Power would be a useful resource for frontline legal
activists, community leaders, and those working within a
critical/feminist framework whether it be in criminology or sociology.


“[Ab]Using Power: The Canadian Experience,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 12, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/7897.