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The encounter between those begging and those passing-by in public spaces has become one of the most controversial issues in the politics and policing of urban life. In this book,criminologist Joe Hermer examines how begging regulation - underpinned by the social character of charity, contract, money and work - plays a central role in organising how we feel responsible for one another in late capitalist society.
Based in the historical insight that modern begging law has had at its core a concern with the compassionate impulses of the public, Hermer develops the concept of the gift encounter to understand begging as a profound social phenomenon that is intricately tied to the exercise of political power. Drawing on a range of eclectic empirical sources, the author examines how criminal begging is governed through specialised police operations and diverted giving programs, as well as the way in which official and legitimate begging such as charity collections, Big Issue selling, and busking are ordered as vital aspects of the gift encounter landscape which the public negotiates.
The author explores how the control of begging and squeegee work is central to a current preoccupation with policing disorder, and reviews the current constitutional state of anti-begging laws in Britain, Canada, and the United States.