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Using theory from the Global South: from social cohesion and collective efficacy to ubuntu

Dixon, Bill

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Criminologists adopting a southern or decolonial perspective bemoan the failure to use theories from the Global South in making sense of crime and responses to it. This article takes the African philosophy and ethics of ubuntu and demonstrates how they might be used to ground a more relevant and effective approach to preventing urban violence in South Africa than northern ideas about social cohesion and collective efficacy current in dominant policy discourses. It argues that using indigenous bodies of knowledge like ubuntu can contribute not just to making good some of the damage done by colonial epistemicides but may also offer workable solutions to contemporary social problems in and beyond the Global South.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 30, 2023
Online Publication Date Jan 31, 2024
Publication Date Jan 31, 2024
Deposit Date Jan 3, 2024
Publicly Available Date Jan 31, 2024
Journal Theoretical Criminology
Print ISSN 1362-4806
Electronic ISSN 1461-7439
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords Indigenous knowledge; social cohesion; South Africa; southern theory; ubuntu
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dixon-2024-using-theory-from-the-global-south-from-social-cohesion-and-collective-efficacy-to-ubuntu (318 Kb)

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Copyright Statement
© The Author(s) 2024.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License ( which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page (

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