This unique collection explores the complex issue of vigilantism, how it is represented in popular culture, and what is its impact on behavior and the implications for the rule of law. The book is a transnational investigation across a range of eleven different jurisdictions, including accounts of the Anglophone world (Australia, Britain, Canada, and the United States), European experiences (Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, and Portugal), and South American jurisdictions (Argentina and Brazil).
The essays, written by prominent international scholars in law, sociology, criminology, and media studies, present data, historical and recent examples of vigilantism; examine the national Laws and jurisprudence; and focus on the broad theme of vigilante justice in popular culture (literature, films, television).
Vigilante Justice in Society and Popular Culture sheds light on this topic offering a detailed look beyond the Anglophone world. This collection will enrich the debate by adding the opportunity for comparison which has been largely lacking in scholarly debate. As such, it will appeal not only to scholars of law, sociology, criminology, and media studies, but also to all those who are engaged with these topics alike.
Peter Robson is professor of social welfare law at the University of Strathclyde.
Ferdinando Spina is associate professor of Sociology of Law at the University of Salento.
Introduction: Vigilantism – an Overview
Peter Robson and Ferdinando Spina
Part I: The Anglophone World
1. American Vigilantism - Popular Justice and Popular Culture
2. Vigilantes, the Law and Popular Culture – The British Experience
3. Vigilante Frontier Communities on Australian Screens: Bushrangers, Bikies, and Bogans
4. Vigilante Justice in Canada
Part II: European Experiences
5. Vigilante Justice in Germany
6. Vigilantism – the Greek Approach
Nickos Myrtou and Stamatis Poulakidakos
7. Vigilantes, the Law and Popular Culture – The Italian Experience
8. The Punishing Hand of Vigilante Justice in Poland
9. Margins Without Justice: Revenge in João Canijo’s Portuguese Cinema
Part III: A South American Perspective
10. “You Said Perpetual!” Approaches to Vigilantism in Argentine Culture
11. Vigilante Justice and the Rule of Death: The Existential Threat to the State and Its People in Brazil
A fascinating group of essays, from a number of countries in various parts of the world, on forms of vigilantism, broadly conceived: collective movements, as well as individual acts of revenge and private justice. The essays pay special attention to these themes in literature, movies, and TV. This work will be important, and illuminating, for a wide range of scholars of legal and social history; and in particular, for students of law and popular culture.
Vigilante justice is a disturbing reminder of the limits of law and the fault lines of social order. This unique and altogether fascinating collection explores how vigilantism is portrayed in popular culture around the world and the lessons these representations contain for understanding law and society.
Is vigilantism a form of righteous revolution – an alternative “street justice”? Or is it violent revenge justified by claims of individual liberty that disregards the rule of law benefits for the most vulnerable? This collection explores these questions from a global perspective within popular culture. It decenters the hegemonic images of defiant U.S. vigilante heroes with gloriously diverse representations of “justice vigilantism” in a world still devoted to democracy and due process but struggling with an epidemic of democracy deficits and a lost confidence in law to deliver justice. The collection includes some canonical scholars as well as rising stars. It is a gift to the law and humanities community.
The boundaries of law often stretch beyond the ordered courtroom into the frenetic turbulence of the streets. The fury of the mob that seeks to frame the narrative of popular justice through reactivity and direct action represents law as untamed and enlivened; yet in these often feral moments, law emerges as rabidly foaming from the mouth, thus perpetuating an antagonistic juxtaposition between legitimacy and terror. This collection of vigilante scholarship, drawing upon examples from Europe, South America, and the Anglosphere, makes a valuable contribution to the study of how law really works and challenges assumptions of what law is and/or should be.
Vigilante justice is the stuff of legends and lies at the heart of popular culture by creating heroes and heroines who challenge what they see as injustice in the existing order. Where it tends to fall flat is when the vigilantes’ individual visions of justice differ and conflict with the broader goals of law. In this informative and insightful “must read” collection, Peter Robson and Ferdinando Spina bring together a cadre of international authors who carefully explain the different perspectives of vigilantism from their own cultural perspectives.