Τετάρτη, 19 Σεπτεμβρίου 2007

Leisure,market and crime in Greece: Friends or foes

Stratos Georgoulas
Assistant Professor
University of the Aegean - Greece
S.georgoulas@Soc.aegean.gr


Introduction
The present paper constitutes a report of an ongoing effort to relate two social phenomena, which, at first glance, might appear unrelated. These are the activities of 'free time' or else leisure in modern society and the structures of social control. My working hypothesis attempts to demonstrate that structures of supervision and mechanisms of control in Greece determine the management of leisure.
Formal social control functions only in a complementary way and only in relation to the control of a parallel market, existing outside the sphere of the dominant market. Leisure management has the capacity of defining itself, in accordance with the rules of market economy. The exchange of products of leisure can take place according to the law of value and the exploitation can be concealed through the "free contract" between the consumer and the provider of services. The discourse and the practice of formal social control are focused on the market management of leisure, aiming mainly at controlling the supply and the demand, excluding or feeding back the specific mechanism.
Definitions
i. Leisure
The analytical tool of leisure will be used as a concept describing a privileged social time in modern societies. It will be examined as value rather than an objective fact, which can be studied alone, superficially, as for example, in relation to its increase or decrease. In other words, I choose not to examine leisure as such because it is my belief that a study of leisure time should not be isolated from the social process. On the contrary, as G. Pronovost (1990) defined it, it should be a field of comprehension of the hierarchy of social values, that is, a social con¬struction readjustable to the circum¬stances and the social actors.
The concept of leisure as a socially readjustable representation is only delimited within the social context; it is determined historically and socially and does not transcend that framework. By being an integral part of society, the division of power and discipline runs through it the same way it runs through all social phenomena.
The social reality reveals the variety in the management of non-working time. The different models coexist but both in the symbolic and the material level of relations, one of them dominates. The dominance of one management pattern of 'free time', or even better of a model within which small differentiations are allowed, under the condition that the existing situation will not be disturbed, is the crystallized effect of this cultural dominance of the urban - industrial -commercial culture. Dominance leads, through control, to conformism and homogeneity. According to Horkheimer and Adorno (1979), the individual is obedient, subject to the industry of culture, which exerts a catalytic influence on the conscious and the sub-conscious. Control becomes more intense as leisure activities are commercialized, leading to a single dimensional pattern of leisure time management. This cloak of free choice, the leisure industry's preoccupation with individual characteristics, is nothing but a mirror image because actually it paralyses critical thought. If we acknowledge that leisure is socially organised through a network of financial, political, judicial and cultural forces, we realize that its expression, its pattern of management, will be encoded, regularized, institution¬alized and controlled by this reality. The possibility of confrontation with this social reality exists only in social groups which have the opportunity to change their living conditions. It is obvious that such groups do not belong to the lower income groups that remain obedient sources of consumption of the dominant leisure practices. The products of the latter are usually mechanically differ¬entiated, not individually but pseudo-individually, since they form part of a hierarchical series of products which serve the law of absolute quantification. The freedom of choice is freedom of choice of something that is always the same. The only thing that changes is the degree of its use, which depends on the user's social status.
My thesis regarding the concept of crime claims that it does not constitute an objective fact, but a social construction, readjustable to the changing social conditions. It is not a reflection of the God-given "natural law" as St. Thomas Aquinas argued (Bernard 1983). If it was, the changes in the context of this concept in different societies and eras could not be explained. Similarly, it is not the product of free will but something influenced by factors within a wide social context. The regularity of crime statistics suggests that. Crime as social construction is characterised by the division of power and discipline that also characterises all social phenomena. Therefore, the penalisation of behaviours is not the result of the entire society's consensual outcry about the violation of a social value which is widely acceptable. More likely, it constitutes an attempt to promote and defend values and interests of groups with great political and economic power, and this effort is legitimated, as an imposed widespread consensus on legal definitions of crime that is diffused in the entire society.
Leisure and formal social control
Since the penalisation of behaviours, the repression and in a wider sense the policy against crime, function within a frame shaped by the results of social conflict, we could expect no elements of conflict between the mechanisms of market and the legal system. On the contrary, since the primary function of the state is not to directly serve the short-term interests of capitalists, but rather to ensure that the social relations of capitalism persist in the long - term, it is expected that low rates of criminality (that is, formal regulation by institutions of repression) will be recorded for a social phenomenon with a high level of market self-regulation, as is leisure.
When forms of leisure are more profitable for the Greek state they require more control over the way they are organised. For example, the electronic gambling, legal and illicit. According to Greek National Statistics Organisation, the gross income of State from gambling for the year 2000 amounts to almost 4 million Euros (Greek National Statistics Organisation, special edition, August 2001). When the turnover of illicit gambling, according to official estimations, amounts to 6 billion Euros (TO VIMA, 3/2/02: A42), the state -which has zero income from this kind of activity - naturally wants to supplement market control with repression via legislative regulation and penalization of behaviours. That explains the Ministerial decision on 21/2/02 regarding the prohibition of all electronic games in public places, until the issue of a new legislative decree. That explains why the Royal Decree 29 / 71 (regarding games) has not been abrogated, instead it has been enriched with the provisions of the Presidential Decree 36/1994, as well as why a behaviour regarding a non conventional (not because it contravenes the dominant mechanism of the market, but because in this case it has exceeded the limits of self-regulation) management pattern of leisure time is controlled, penalised and punished. The deviant behaviours in leisure time are considered as non active management of 'free time' and they are under the control of the repressive mechanisms of the state, which takes action in order to regulate an uncontrolled market. A law with few legal institutions of electronic gambling (oligopoly) is better than anarchy in the market of this leisure product.
Research
The present working hypothesis is oriented towards a research of state repression. My research concerns the implementation of legislation patterns in relation to control and the penalisation of specific forms of leisure, during the past years in Greece.
The official crime policy is registered in the official data of the Statistics of Justice, which are charted by the Greek National Statistics Organisation in collaboration with the Ministries of Justice and Public Order. In order to achieve a better understanding of the phenomenon, I will present useful conclusions deduced from the available tables which refer to the years between 1991-19961, free of temporary accidental influences, which can occur in a year's time, and affect the statistical data (e.g. changes in legislation, lawyer's strike etc). More specifically, through a secondary analysis of statistical data and the creation of new specialised tables I will try to show the following findings: • The proportion in absolute numbers and in percentages for the offence of "lucky games" in the total detected criminality in the years 1991-1996. The percentages of leisure offences remain almost unaltered for the entire six-year period as if an "invisible hand" provides constant equivalence even when total criminality undergoes quantitative changes (Table 1). For the entire period of my research (1991-1996), the percentage of the offence "lucky games" in the total detected crimin¬ality, has been almost stable at 3%. This means that the penal control is a consequence of certain social factors. It looks as if it has been predetermined, and hence it is not a product of free will.
The specific penalized behaviour has been categorized as minor offence by the state. It usually takes place in cities and is committed by men, as the total of offences (Table 2). It is usually punished with short-term imprisonment

(Table 3), without obvious results, as the rate of recidivism shows (Table 4). Therefore, it is a behaviour which is not considered to pose a great danger to our society, that does not constitute a "common" criminal behaviour, neither
is a permanent parameter of the policy against crime. In other words, the repressive mechanisms do not have as their main objective to control this behaviour.

•The specific offence in relation to the geographical region in which it took place. Formal social control is stricter in Attica and Peloponnesus, as it is obvious in the second stage of the administration of justice (sentenced people),something which is not the case in the periphery (Aegean, Crete, Ionian) (comparing Tables 5 and 6). It is stricter in regions where many such centres of activities operate with large concentration of population. In other words, in regions with a greater need for
external determination of regulation, in contradiction to regions with oligopoly,
regarding leisure activities, that is, in the isolated and sparsely populated regions of Greece. The profile of the person sentenced for the specific offence, includes the following characteristics:
35-59 years of age (Table 7), married with children, graduate of primary education (Table 8) — a profile which does not seem to differ much from the profile of the person that has been stigmatised as a "criminal". The repression affects the lumpen-proletariat users.
It is a crime-control policy that attempts to deal with the symptoms without changing the basic political-economic forces that generate these symptoms (Greenberg 1980). In all cases the specific crime is concentrated in the lower social classes because as Bonger argued (Bonger 1967), the justice system criminalises the greed of the poor while it allows legal opportunities for the rich to pursue their selfish desires. • The most interesting characteristic, however, concerns the professional profile of the person sentenced for this offence. Most of them are self-employed (Table 9) in the sector of service provision (Table 10), a fact which reveals the existence of a small size market, which functions beyond the control of the big capital and which is mainly checked by the formal social control.
Conclusion
In the present paper, I attempted to connect a human behaviour that is, the management of leisure and mainly the efforts of the State to control it, with the political economy of a specific society, in this case contemporary Greece. Within this framework, I tried to disclose the socio-economic data about the offence and the offenders, but mainly the way in which the official state decides to punish, through court decisions, by enacting law or laws which concern(s) the offence.
More analytically, in my basic working hypothesis I mentioned that the penal control of the management patterns of leisure play a supplementary role in relation to the existing market patterns of incorporation. As a result of this, no elements of conflict between the value models of market proposal and penal treatment of the management of "free time" are found. On the contrary, a tendency of supplementary intervention is observed, wherever the limits of the market self-regulation have been exceeded, aiming at its regulation. Formal control acts in a supplementary way, in relation to the mechanisms of control and supervision which stem from the market. This supplementary engagement is selective, since it concerns social categories (by profession, education, social class), the same way it occurs in all mechanisms of repression, by reproducing the dominated status of these people in modern society.
To sum up, penal repression cannot play an autonomous or even causal role, in relation to the dominant management patterns of leisure, which are determined mainly by the market. It could, however, constitute control of a parallel market which functions beyond the limits of market and for that matter the specific control is permissible and desirable, as far as the ruling class is concerned.

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