The thesis addresses the marginalization of the concept of social harm within the field of criminology. The mainstream criminological discourse that focuses predominantly on the notion of crime leads to the denial of various activities and processes that aren't criminalized, but are nevertheless harmful for individuals and the society. An example of a normalized, yet harmful practice of contemporary society that is treated in detail in this thesis is fast fashion, characterized by short production and distribution cycles (as a quick response to consumer demand) and an emphasis on the fashionability of clothing.
Fast fashion is analyzed through the lens of the concept of social harm, which serves as an alternative to the notion of crime. Using the concept of social harm makes it possible to draw attention to a series of negative events, inequalities and injustices, which criminal law does not address and which therefore remain unnoticed or are accepted as normal by the wider public. The thesis also emphasizes the importance of zemiology, a discipline that focuses on the concept of social harm.
The exploration of ways to reduce social harm draws on two criminological theories, the theory of labelling and the reintegrative shaming theory. The thesis aims to answer the question whether these two theories can serve as a basis for changing the perception of individuals regarding the normalized practices of contemporary society (such as consumerism and fast fashion) that could thus play a role in the reduction of social harm. To this end, a critical analysis of the two theories was carried out along with a historical and comparative analysis of alcohol abuse, drug abuse and smoking, all three of which were considered socially acceptable, yet deemed harmful at a certain point in time. The role that key actors involved in the production and the consumption of clothing can play in reducing the harm caused by fast fashion is likewise analyzed.