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Finding a Political Voice: The Emergence of Critical Criminology in Britain

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Finding a political voice
The emergence of critical criminology
in Britain
Jayne Mooney
The National Deviancy Conferences
In the middle of the 1960s, there were a number of young sociologists in Britain
attracted to the then wholly American field in the sociology of deviance. The ideas in
such works as Becker’s Outsiders and Matza’s Delinquency and Drift seemed to make sense
across a whole range of teaching and research interests, particularly in ‘marginal’ areas
such as drugs, sexual deviance, youth culture and mental illness. Official criminology
was regarded with attitudes ranging from ideological condemnation to a certain mea-
sure of boredom. But being a sociologist – often isolated in a small department – was
not enough to get away from criminology: some sort of separate subculture had to be
carved out within the sociological world. So, ostensibly for these reasons (although this
account sounds suspiciously like colour-supplement history), seven of us met in July
1968, fittingly enough in Cambridge in the middle of the Third National Conference
of Teaching and Research, organised by the Institute (of Criminology) and opened by
the Home Secretary. We decided to form a group to provide some sort of intellectual
support for each other to cope with collective problems of identity (Stan Cohen, 1981,
p. 194)
This ‘intellectual support’ was to consolidate around the National Deviancy Conferences
(NDC).1 As Stan Cohen recalls the conferences were brought into being by a group of
young academics who were both excited by the developments in North American radical
sociology and disillusioned with the orthodox or establishment criminology as represented
by the Institute of Criminology at Cambridge University, under the directorship of Leon
Radzinowicz. The Third National Conference of Teaching and Research on Criminology
had been dominated by the views of the establishment, which were largely positivist in
focus, concerned with the pathology of the offender. The seven founding individuals, who
met as part of that breakaway faction at the Conference, were Stan Cohen, Kit Carson, Mary
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McIntosh, David Downes, Jock Young, Paul Rock and Ian Taylor, all of whom became well
known in the fields of criminology and the sociology of deviance. Leon Radzinowicz (1999)
said of the NDC that ‘at the time, it reminded me a little of naughty schoolboys, playing a
nasty game on their stern headmaster’ (p. 229). He, unsurprisingly, was not invited to par-
ticipate. Jock Young (2002) has described the NDC as ‘anarchistic and antinomian, set deep
in the counter culture of the time’, and also ‘hectic, irreverent, transgressive and, above all,
fun’ (p. 252). Between 1968 and 1973 there were 14 conferences producing an extraordinary
outpouring of innovative work that was to ultimately transform the discipline of criminol-
ogy in Britain. It attacked positivist and classicist discourses; was concerned with how the
criminal justice system was selective and fundamentally flawed, particularly with respect
to its focus on the crimes of the working class whilst ignoring those of the more power-
ful groups in society. In terms of explorations in the sociology of deviance there was an
emphasis on youth and class, which generated papers, for example, on football hooliganism
and working class youth (Taylor, 1968), drug use (Young, 1968), hippies (Hall, 1970) and
motorbike subculture (Willis, 1972). However, there were no restrictions in terms of dis-
cipline and, as such, there were important contributions to cultural studies, anti-psychiatry
and the sociology of sexualities.
Figure 1.1 Laurie Taylor, Stan Cohen, Ian Taylor, Jock Young, Roy Bailey, and David Downes at
the 1976 NDC at York University.
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The National Deviancy Conferences were particularly significant in terms of the devel-
opment of critical criminology in Britain, leading to two important theoretical strands: the
‘new’ criminology of Ian Taylor, Paul Walton and Jock Young and others; and the work of
the University of Birmingham’s Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS), under
the directorship of Stuart Hall, on the theorisation of youth subcultures, resistance and
moral panics. The New Criminology by Taylor, Walton and Young (1973) has been described
as the ‘major manifesto of NDC Marxism’ (Payne, Dingwall, Payne, & Carter, 1981, p. 105)
and in its introduction the authors directly acknowledge that it is a ‘product of discussions
and developments in and around the National Deviancy Conference’ (Taylor et al., 1973,
p. xv). Similarly, Steve Redhead (1995) has described the ventures into youth culture and
subcultures by the CCCS as having originated from the research into politics and deviance
that was carried out by the NDC. Indeed, many of those associated with the CCCS were
active participants in the NDC. Stuart Hall gave papers at the NDC’s fifth symposium
in April 1970 and at the twelfth symposium in January 1973. Phil Cohen, ‘the other most
influential and seminal theorist in this period of CCCS work’ (Redhead, 1995, p. 33),
presented his path-breaking study of working class youth culture in October 1970. Paul
Willis, who went on to write the now-classic ethnography of working class ‘lads’, Learning to
Labour (Willis, 1977), gave his paper on ‘A Motorbike Subculture’ at the ninth symposium
in January 1972 (Willis, 1972). The ‘new’ criminology and the work of the Birmingham
CCCS has had a lasting impact on debates on criminology, deviance and narratives of social
control both nationally and internationally.
This emergence of critical thinking in relation to crime and deviance was, of course,
not just a British phenomenon. Similar approaches were also developing in Europe (see
van Swaaningen, 1997) and across the Atlantic, most notably at the Berkeley School
of Criminology at the University of California (as in the work of Julia and Herman
Schwendinger, Tony Platt, Paul Takagi, Barry Krisberg and Elliot Currie to name a few
of those associated with the School). Interestingly, Stan Cohen, Mario Simondi from Italy
and Karl Schumann from Germany, all well known for their contributions to critical crimi-
nology, were visiting scholars at the Berkeley School in 1970, sharing an office. Thus, at
Berkeley we have a coming together of key people involved in the emergence of British,
continental European and North American critical criminology and, as van Swaaningen
notes, although Cohen, Simondi and Schumann did not know each other previously, they
shared ‘a dissatisfaction with the dominant law-and-order interests’ that determined the
criminological agenda and ‘a positive commitment to social justice’ (ibid., p. 82).2 Such a
commitment to social justice remains central to critical criminology.
The social and political context for the development of
critical criminology
Critical criminology developed at a significant point in time: the late 1960s and 1970s. As
Jock Young (2002) reflects, it occurred ‘at the cusp of change’, inspired by ‘a world where
oppressive relationships of class, age, gender and ethnicity became heightened and evident
(in that historical order)’ (p. 252). The 1960s were a period of political and social upheaval
in which young people in particular became more aware of the oppressive power of the state
and the levels of discrimination experienced by those from ethnic minority or impover-
ished backgrounds who were commonly held responsible for the ‘ills’ of society. The rapid
expansion of higher education meant that those from working class origins were entering
the academy in much greater numbers than ever before; furthermore, they were becoming
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politicised by current events and wanted their voices heard. Indeed, many of those involved
in the NDC and the development of critical criminology came from such backgrounds and
were the first members of their families to go into higher education.
The increasing prominence of the civil rights movement in the United States and the
launch of campaigns against the Vietnam and Cambodian Wars and Ian Smith’s racist gov-
ernment in Rhodesia had a profound impact. The London School of Economics, the focus
of much student radicalism, was closed down for a while in 1967 as a result of student action
over the disciplinary measures taken against two student union officials involved in earlier
protests against the new director of the university, Walter Adams, a known associate of
Smith’s regime. In 1970, at Kent State University in the United States, four students were
killed and nine others wounded by the Ohio national guard following protests against the
American invasion of Cambodia, an atrocity that reverberated across the world and caused
considerable outrage amongst the younger members of the British academy.
The massive political unrest that occurred in Paris in early to mid-1968 especially caught
the imagination of the founders of the NDC and was the focus of much discussion at the
inaugural conference held later that year. The Paris events began as an occupation at the
University of Paris at Nanterre, where students and activists were protesting a number
of issues including overcrowding at the university and the arrest of six members of the
National Vietnam Committee. Their action spread to other universities and lycées and
the leaders called for solidarity with the working classes. For, despite the post-World War
II boom, which saw a tripling in foreign trade, the French workers, especially those who
were unskilled, were suffering from appallingly low pay and poor conditions. The protests
spilled on to the streets leading to violent confrontations with the police. Strikes broke out
throughout the country to the extent that Paris and Lyon were effectively closed down
(Sreenan, 1993). The government of President Charles de Gaulle was brought to a point of
near-collapse; NATO troops were mobilised on the French border.
Thus, obvious social injustices were no longer to be ignored; there was a questioning
of the views of the Establishment and widespread lack of conformity to accepted opinions
and values. This provided a significant impetus for critical criminology and the emphasis
was placed on the need for a radical – indeed for many this meant a revolutionary – political
agenda with the aim of restructuring society along socialist lines.
The roots of much critical criminology, therefore, largely lie in Marxist or neo-Marxist
theories.3 However, in the work of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels there is little systematic
discussion on crime they had much bigger things with which to be concerned with.
Their primary focus was on the political economy and how capital and labour relate to each
other within the context of capitalism; as John Lea (2010) puts it, ‘they were revolutionaries
concerned to analyse the dynamics of nineteenth-century capitalism for the purpose of
understanding how it was to be superseded by a communist society’ (p. 19). Nevertheless,
this is not to say that Marx was not interested in crime or unaware of debates at the time.
For example, in an article for the New York Daily Tribune, published in February 1853,
Marx refers to Adolphe Quetelet’s work, a pioneering exponent on the impact of relative
deprivation in relation to crime (Marx, 1853), and Marx’s early articles for the journal
Rheinische Zeitung in 1842 on the theft of wood by the Rhineland parliament are key to
understanding how bourgeois interests affect the administration of the law (Marx, 1975
[1842]). Further, Engels (2009 [1845]), in The Conditions of the Working Class in England,
presented crime both as arising out of the brutalising circumstances of poverty and as a
form of resistance. In relation to the latter, he argues that ‘the contempt for the existing
social order is most conspicuous in its extreme form that of offences against the law’
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(ibid., p. 81). Crime is thus a rebellious response to the circumstances in which the ‘work-
ing man’ finds himself.
What critical criminologists largely took from the ideas of Marx and Engels was that
crime has a materialist basis. As Rick Matthews (2003) succinctly notes, from a Marxist
perspective, ‘crime can only be understood as occurring within a specific set of social and
economic conditions’ and, as such, ‘the nature, form and extent of crime is dependent on the
way in which society organizes itself’ (p. 3).
British critical criminologists, as indicated by Stan Cohen’s (1981) remarks, were, more-
over, strongly influenced by the new American deviancy theory of the intensively creative
period of 1955–65 (see Ferrell, Hayward, & Young, 2008). This had two strands: subcul-
tural theory, particularly that of Albert Cohen and Richard Cloward and behind them the
early work of R. K. Merton, and the labelling theorists, for example Howard Becker, John
Kitsuse and Edwin Lemert. The former focused on the deviant act, the latter the reaction to
the act. The innovation of the British theorists was to put both strands together and to place
this in a macro-context that examined the dynamics of society as a whole. This was the role
of The New Criminology in its aim of creating ‘a fully social theory’ of crime and deviance.
Figure 1.2 The New Criminology: For a Social Theory of Deviance.
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The New Criminology
In Taylor et al.’s (1973) The New Criminology the ideas of Marx and Engels are evident
throughout. The New Criminology is considered a key text in the history of critical criminol-
ogy in Britain. In over 30 years it has not been out of print. The New Criminology was followed
by Critical Criminology in 1975, a series of essays edited also by Taylor, Walton and Young
and featuring contributions by commentators, such as Herman and Julia Schwendinger,
William Chambliss and Tony Platt, who were known for their leftist views on crime and
social control in the United States (Taylor, Walton, & Young, 1975). This text was designed
to explore and debate the ideas presented in The New Criminology.
The New Criminology was to set the stage for a fully social theory of crime and deviance.
As Alvin Gouldner (1973) commented in his forward to the book, it is ‘made thoroughly
clear’ that the study of criminology should involve ‘the critical understanding of both the larger
society and of the broadest social theory; it is not the study of some marginal exotic or
esoteric group, be they criminals or criminologists’ (p. x, emphasis in original). It argued
that it is important for theory to be placed in its wider social and historical context; hence,
the events of the present period are crucial if we are to fully comprehend the nature of
crime and the reaction to it. The New Criminology critiques the major criminological theo-
ries – classicism and positivism – and some of the more recent approaches of the time, for
example labelling theory and the ‘new’ conflict theories. It takes issue with those that set
the individual apart from society and fail to provide a sense of history; indeed, the social
and historical actor is seen as ‘almost totally absent in existing criminological theory’ (ibid.,
p. 269). The major ‘enemy’ is thus that of establishment criminology, which endorses a
positivistic explanation for crime, presenting it as largely the result of social or personal
pathology and advocating correctionalism (that which involves correcting the behaviour of
the individual through criminal sanctions or rehabilitation) as a means of dealing with it. As
Taylor et al. (1975) were to elaborate in Critical Criminology, correctionalism ‘is irretrievably
bound up with the identification of deviance with pathology, or that, where it is not, it col-
lapses into a mindless relativism’ (p. 44). For the new criminologists the causes of crime are
to be found outside of the individual, in the social structure, that is, in the ‘inequalities of
wealth and power, and in particular of inequalities in property and life-chances’ (Taylor et
al., 1973, p. 281) created by contemporary capitalist society, and, as such, the solution must
involve the restructuring of society.
Hence, Taylor et al. (1973) write, ‘with Marx, we have been concerned with the social
arrangements that have obstructed, and the social contradictions that enhance, man’s
chances of achieving full sociality’ (p. 270). And in Critical Criminology they acknowledge
more fully the importance of utilising Marxism in order to create a social theory of crime:
The superiority of Marxs work lies not in his individual genius but rather in his method.
In part, this method rests on a refusal to separate out thought from society. Thus, for
Marx, theoretical reflection is either obfuscation or an exercise in practical reasoning.
Marx insists upon two features of any properly social analysis. Firstly, he says that, ‘to
be radical is to grasp things at the root. For man the root is Man himself ’. Second,
he observes that man is inseparable from society. It follows that to analyse crime,
for example, requires we examine man’s position in society. (Taylor et al., 1975, p. 45,
emphasis in original)
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The goal should, therefore, be to create a socialist society, in which material differences
are removed and the emphasis is on equality. This is, they argue, given that the causes of
crime are located in the conditions created by capitalism, the only way that crime could
possibly be abolished. Moreover, that such a society should be one that embraces and does
not criminalise human diversity. For,
it is possible to envisage societies free of any material necessity to criminalize devi-
ance . . . there are forms of human diversity which, under capitalism, are labelled and
processed as criminal but which should not be subject to control in societies that pro-
claimed themselves to be socialist. (ibid., p. 20, emphasis in original)
Examples of diversity would include homosexuality, drug use, gambling and other forms of
hedonistic or oppositional behaviour. This would clearly necessitate a reduction in the level
of state control, an important theme in contemporary critical criminology.
Taylor et al. (1973), having examined and exposed the flaws in the major criminological theo-
ries, turned in the final chapter of The New Criminology to outline the core requirements of a
fully social theory of crime and deviance.4 The emphasis is on the structural origins of the act
and the reaction to the act.
The formal requirements of theory
The formal requirements of theory should be able to point to and account for the connections
1. The wider origins of the deviant act, ‘in other words, to place the act in terms of its wider
structural origins’.
2. The immediate origins of the deviant act, to ‘be able to explain the dierent events, expe-
riences or structur al developments that precipitate the deviant act’.
3. The actual act, to explain the relationship between the behavior and the causes; ‘a
working class adolescent, for example, confronted with blockage of opportunity, with
problems of status frustration, alienated from the kind of existence oered out to him in
contemporary society, may want to engage in hedonistic activities or he may choose to
kick back at a rejecting society (e.g. through acts of vandalism)’.
4. The immediate origins of the social reaction, that is, how the act is responded to.
5. The wider origins of deviant reaction, that is, ‘the position and attributes of those who
instigate the reaction against the deviant’.
6. The outcome of the social reaction on the deviant’s further action.
7. The nature of the deviant process as a whole; how 1–6 connect together. (ibid., pp.270–8)
BOX 1.1 A critical theory of crime and deviance
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The Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies
Birmingham University’s Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies was, likewise, Marxist
leaning; the writings of the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci played a particularly impor-
tant role in the development of the theoretical background to its work. Indeed, Stuart Hall
(1990) has described the Centre as a ‘Gramscian project’ (p. 17). The Gramscian concept of
hegemony was seen as fundamental in terms of understanding how power is constructed
in society. Hegemony refers to the way in which power is achieved and legitimated through
consent as opposed to coercion. This relates not only to the acquiring of control at the level
of the economy, ‘the decisive nucleus of the economic activity, but also to how those who
hold the power are able to impose their values – their interpretation of the world – so that
these values are accepted by subordinated groups. The role of ideas is key to the achieving of
power by consent. As Hall (1987) wrote, ‘The nature of power in the modern world is that
it is also constructed in relation to political, moral, intellectual, cultural, ideological, sexual
questions’; thus, ‘the question of hegemony is always the question of a new cultural order’
(pp. 201, emphasis in original).
The Centre aspired to be in line with Gramsci’s concept of the ‘organic intellectual.
The ‘organic intellectual’ contrasted with the traditional intellectual who was elitist and
distant from the masses. Traditional intellectuals wrote ‘without feeling the elementary
passions of the people, understanding them and therefore explaining and justifying them
in the particular historical situation’ (Gramsci, 1971, p. 418). Organic intellectuals arose
‘organically’ from their class grouping and gave a voice to the interests, culture, values and
concerns of the people. They were, as Colin Webster (2010) has commented, ‘much closer
to the everyday, to “common sense” knowledge and popular culture than their traditional
counterparts’ (p. 199). Many of those involved in the Centre, as with the NDC, originally
came from the less privileged sections of society; their backgrounds were largely working
class and most were graduate students rather than full-time faculty. They were more in
touch with the ‘dirty outside world’ and their aim, as Hall (1990) reflected, was to ‘use the
enormous advantage given to a tiny handful of us in the British educational system who
had the opportunity to go into universities and reflect on (real) problems, to spend that time
usefully to try to understand how the world worked’ (p. 17). Moreover, they
took to heart the Gramscian injunction that the practice of an organic intellectual would
have to be to engage with the philosophical end of the enterprise, with knowledge at
its most testing. Because it mattered, we had to know more than they knew about our
subject at the same time as we took responsibility for translating that knowledge back
into practice . . . Neither the one nor the other alone would do. And that is because we
tried, in our extremely marginal way up there on the eighth floor in the Arts Faculty
Building, to think of ourselves as a tiny piece of a hegemonic struggle. Just one tiny bit
of it. We didn’t have the illusion we were where the game really was. But we knew that
the questions we were asking were of central relevance to the questions through which
hegemony is either established or contested. (ibid., p. 18)
The Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, under Stuart Hall’s leadership, has been
described as a ‘powerhouse in contemporary sociology’ and as ‘interdisciplinary par excel-
lence, iconoclastic, and immensely innovative’ (Ferrell et al., 2008, p. 46). In addition to those
names already mentioned, others associated with the Centre included Angela McRobbie,
who (with Jenny Garber) produced ground-breaking work on girls and subcultures, Dick
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Hebdige, Tony Jefferson, John Clarke, Paul Gilroy, Chas Critcher, Paul Corrigan and
Dave Morley. Constantly moving between the disciplines of sociology, criminology, liter-
ary studies and social history they made use of the Marxist literature to provide a fuller
understanding of the role that ideology played in the construction of the hegemonic pro-
cess: Richard Hoggart on how to ‘read’ working class culture; Raymond Williams and the
importance of expressing the creativity inherent in popular culture and how this relates to
people’s identities; the work of Claude Levi Strauss and Roland Barthes and the concept of
‘bricolage’; and from English social historians such as Edward Thompson the idea of ‘writ-
ing from below’. The last is very much in line with the role of the ‘organic intellectual’: it is
of history written from ‘the material experience of the common people, rather than “from
above” in the committee chambers of high office’ (Pearson, 1978, p. 119). The ‘gaze’ of the
Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies was, therefore, ‘wide in focus; it disdained the
narrow optic of orthodox criminology’ (Ferrell et al., 2008, p. 46). Yet despite such a cross-
disciplinary approach and multiplicity of research interests – teddy boys, mods and rockers,
drugs, mugging and so on the theme that united those associated with the Centre was how
order was reproduced in capitalist Britain in the post-War period (Downes and Rock, 2007).
From a critical criminology perspective the two main texts are the collaboratively written
Resistance through Rituals (Hall and Jefferson, 1975) and Policing the Crisis (Hall et al., 1978).
Both attempt to provide a social theory in the sense of focusing on the structural origins
and context of the act of deviance or crime and the reaction to it. Policing the Crisis is more
developed in its approach and addresses to a large degree the formal requirements of theory
as outlined in The New Criminology (see Box 1.1) to the extent that it allows the reader to
‘assess the claim that critical criminology is superior to alternative approaches’ (Downes and
Rock, 2007, p. 235).
The focus in Resistance through Rituals is on the style-centred youth cultures that emerged
after World War II. The importance of understanding culture in its historical context is
highlighted in the first chapter of the book. Drawing on Edward Thompson (1961) and Karl
Marxs (1970 [1845]) The German Ideology, John Clarke and colleagues write:
Culture is the way, the forms, in which groups ‘handle’ the raw material of their social
and material existence . . . ‘Culture’ is the practice which realizes or objectivates group-
life in meaningful shape and form . . . The ‘culture’ of a group or class is the peculiar
and distinctive ‘way of life’ of the group or class, the meanings, values and ideas embod-
ied in institutions, in social relations, in systems of beliefs, in mores and customs, in
the uses of objects and material life . . . A culture includes ‘maps of meaning’ which
make things intelligible to its members. These ‘maps of meaning’ are not simply car-
ried around in the head: they are objectivated in the patterns of social organisation
and relationship through which the individual becomes a ‘social individual.’ Culture is
the way the social relations of a group are structured and shaped: but it is also the way
these shapes are experienced, understood and interpreted’. (Clarke, Hall, Jefferson, &
Roberts, 1975, pp. 10–11, emphasis in original)
The number and variety of youth cultures, or subcultures, was seen as a collective response
to the material conditions that youth, especially those from the working class, encountered
in British society. For as Colin Webster (2010) points out, although the ‘changes in popular
culture and the emergence of a new consumer culture’ that occurred in this period ‘gave the
appearance of freedom of choice and “classlessness” ’, they simply disguised the ‘real rela-
tions of class and power’ that still existed (p. 200). The reality for many working class young
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people was educational disadvantage, ‘compulsory miseducation’, unemployment, jobs with
no prospects, the increasing routinisation and specialisation of labour, low levels of pay and
the loss of skills valued in previous generations. However, unlike the American subcultural
theorists, the authors of Resistance through Rituals did not see the subculture as a ‘solution’
to these problems; ‘sub-cultural strategies cannot match, meet or answer the structuring
dimensions emerging in this period as a whole’ (Hall & Jefferson, 1975, p. 47). For Clarke
et al. (1975), when post-War subcultures confront the structural problems inherent in their
class position, ‘they often do so in ways which reproduce the gaps and discrepancies between
real negotiations and symbolically displaced “resolutions”. They “solve”, but in an imaginary
way, problems which at the concrete material level remain unresolved’ (pp. 47– 48).
Thus, Tony Jefferson’s (1975) ethnography of the Teddy Boy provides a rather sad por-
trayal of the Teddy Boys’ response to their ‘social plight’. The adopting of a rather upper
class style of dress – a variation on the Saville Row Edwardian suit – serves to ‘cover’ the
‘gap between largely manual, unskilled, near-lupen real careers and life-chances, and the
“all-dressed-up-and-nowhere-to-go” experience of Saturday evening’ (p. 48). When fights
erupted Jefferson found them as having largely arisen from perceived or actual insults to the
Teddy Boys’ appearance and style of dress. These incidents become understandable once
Figure 1.3 Resistance through Rituals: Youth Subcultures in Post-War Britain.
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we take on board the Teddy Boys’ ‘plight’ and the symbolic importance attached to their
clothes. As Jefferson writes:
My contention is that to lads traditionally lacking in status and being further deprived
of what little they possessed there remained only the self, the cultural extension of the
self (dress, personal appearance) and the social extension of the self (the group). Once
threats were perceived in these areas, the only ‘reality’ or ‘space’ on which they had any
hold, then the fights, in defence of this space become explicable and meaningful phenomena.
(ibid., p. 82, emphasis in original)
The social reaction to youth culture was as much of a preoccupation for the Centre as
the documentation of its origins and manifestation. Mainstream or the ‘dominant’ society
did not, as they noted, calmly sit on the sidelines throughout the period and watch the
subcultures at play’ (ibid., p. 71). Youth came to symbolise social change. Although social
change in post-War Britain was seen as largely positive – for example increased affluence
and choice – it also threatened the traditional ordering of society leading to social anxiety.
The result of this was the creation of moral panics – ‘a spiral in which the social groups who
perceive their world and position as threatened, identify a “responsible enemy,” and emerge
as the vociferous guardians of traditional values’ (ibid., p. 72) around the new and highly
visible youth subcultures. As Clarke and colleagues argued, events associated in particular
with the rise of the Teddy Boy and mods were ‘classic moral panics’ and each ‘was seen as
signifying, in microcosm, a wider and deeper social problem – the problem of youth as a
whole’ (ibid.). Moral panics, likewise, occurred around the ‘rebellious’ behaviour of middle
class youth leading to heightened concerns over permissiveness, drugs, sexuality and por-
nography. Indeed, whereas working class youth groups were thought symptomatic of the
depth of civil unrest, middle class groups ‘with their public disaffiliation, their ideological
attack on “straight society,” their relentless search for pleasure and gratification . . . were
interpreted as action, more consciously and deliberately, to undermine social and moral
stability’ (ibid.). They damaged the very fabric of society. The result of such moral panics
was the beginnings of a more punitive, law and order society in which young people were
often the target of increasing levels of social control. This theme was to be developed further
in Policing the Crisis.
Policing the Crisis: Mugging, the State and Law and Order, to give the book its full title, was
published as part of the critical social studies series edited by Paul Walton and Jock Young
and is regarded by many as the seminal text of the Centre for Contemporary Cultural
Studies. Whereas Resistance through Rituals is remarkable for its youthful (no pun intended)
enthusiasm for its subject matter, Policing the Crisis is a much more scholarly enterprise. The
aim of the book was to examine the social phenomenon of ‘mugging’ – to understand its
social context and meaning and especially why at a particular historical moment, that of the
early 1970s, British society was reacting to it in such an extreme way. It illustrates how the
themes of race, class and youth were all ‘condensed into the image of “mugging” (Hall
et al., 1978, p. viii), what this symbolised and its resulting impact on the development of a
law and order society. Its impetus was the severe sentencing handed down to three young
men of mixed ethnicity, Paul Storey, James Duignan and Mustafa Fuat, who had ‘mugged
a man on his way home from a pub in Handsworth, Birmingham, leaving him robbed and
seriously injured. It was a very brutal attack. Paul Storey, judged to be the ‘ringleader’, who
was 16 years old, received a sentence of 20 years, the other two sentences of 10 years. The
case received a tremendous amount of news coverage (Figure 1.4).
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From this incident, the authors examine the use of the word ‘mugging’, a label appropri-
ated from the United States, although originating in Victorian England, and not, of course,
a recognised criminal offence (Mooney, 1992). The label, with its imported American con-
notations relating to ‘the race conflict; the urban crisis; rising crime, the breakdown of “law
and order”; the liberal conspiracy; the white backlash’ (Hall et al., 1978, p. 27), was used to
suggest rising levels of street crime and as indicative of a society that was rapidly racing out
of control. As the Birmingham Evening Mail reported on 20 March 1973, ‘Britain seems to be
edging too close for comfort to the American pattern of urban violence’ (ibid., p. 26).
Hall and his colleagues sought to examine the statistical basis for the ‘mugging’ panic.
They showed that the incidence of the offence closest to the label ‘mugging’, that of ‘rob-
bery or assault with intent to rob’, did not rise as dramatically as that reported. Indeed, the
increase that occurred was largely caused by the conflating of non-violent offences, such
as ‘snatches’ and pick-pocketing, with those of ‘robbery or assault with intent to rob. This
was also to occur in Brixton, London, in the 1980s. Here, again, the figures were conflated
resulting in a seemingly steep rise in violent street offences. The heavy-handed police tactics
employed in a bid to combat the ‘rise’ – including increased use of stops and search, which
were largely racially targeted – were a major factor behind the subsequent Brixton riots
(Mooney, 1992). For the authors of Policing the Crisis, if the so-called ‘rising tide of mugging’
(Hall et al., 1978, p. 26) of the early 1970s was without foundation, what on earth was going
on? The answer to this was a ‘moral panic’ over mugging and the supposed criminality of
black youth.
As in Resistance through Rituals, the 1970s are presented as a time of heightened social
anxiety in which the traditional way of life was under threat. Older people felt a ‘loss’ of
close family ties, respect, discipline, a sense of community and ‘Englishness’. And although
this was perceived as a period of increased affluence in which ‘poverty as a way of life was
widely said and thought to be disappearing’, in actual fact it ‘refused to disappear; indeed,
not long after it was, magically, rediscovered’ (ibid., p.158). As a result, ‘mugging’ came
Figure 1.4 News coverage of the Handsworth ‘Mugging’ (Hall et al., 1978, p.83).
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to represent a society that had ‘slipped “out of control” (Clarke, 2008, p. 311) and the
‘black mugger’ became the convenient ‘folk devil, the scapegoat on which social anxieties
could be projected. It is, therefore, not surprising that the state, confronted by a ‘crisis in
hegemony’, became more punitive, launching into a ‘war on crime’, in order to re-establish
its legitimacy and authority.
The result of the ‘crisis’ is, therefore, a drift towards a ‘law and order society’ and the rise
of the ‘exceptional’ state in which
the state has won the right, and indeed inherited the duty, to move swiftly, to stamp
fast and hard, to listen in, discreetly survey, saturate and swamp, charge or hold with-
out charge, act on suspicion, hustle and shoulder, to keep society on the straight and
narrow. (Hall et al., 1978, p. 323)
This is, the authors conclude, ‘the social, the ideological content of social reaction in the
1970s. It is also the moment of mugging’ (ibid., emphasis in original).
Finally, although Hall and his co-workers stress that Policing the Crisis ‘is not a book about
why or how muggers, as individuals, mug’ (ibid., p. 27, emphasis in original), the end does
deal with the causes of crime, which are emphatically presented as arising from inequalities
within the social structure. The black labour force are the ‘super-exploitables’ of the present
economic situation. For young black men the realities of their situation are all too appar-
ent: having gone through the British education system they are better equipped than their
parents’ generation ‘to take their place beside the white peers of their own class in the ranks
of skilled and semi-skilled labour’, yet ‘they feel the closure of the occupational and oppor-
tunity structure to them – on grounds not of competence but of race . . . In their experience
English society is “racist” – it works through race’ (ibid., p. 354, emphasis in original).
They end up doing ‘shit work’ and as the economic crisis deepens their destiny is to
‘become the unemployed reserve army of their class’ (ibid., p. 356). Crime is the ‘perfectly
predictable and quite comprehensible consequence of this process’ (ibid., p. 390). For many
young black men ‘hustling’ and petty crime come to represent both a survival strategy and a
form of resistance to the mainstream culture. In its analysis of both the causes of crime and
the social reaction to crime in a particular historical period, Policing the Crisis comes closer to
providing a ‘fully social theory of crime’ than had hitherto occurred.
Criticising critical criminology
From the outset commentators – some of whom were on the same side politically – have
pointed out a number of key deficiencies within critical criminology. The New Criminology
was described as presenting an incomplete account of traditional theories of crime; the cri-
tique of positivism, for example, was largely about biological positivism (see Lilly, Cullen, &
Ball, 2011). Paul Hirst (1975) took issue with the Marxist roots of much critical criminology,
arguing that ‘there is no “Marxist theory of deviance”, either in existence, or which can be
developed within orthodox Marxism’ (p. 204), a claim that was strongly rebutted by Taylor
et al. (1975) and others keen to apply Marxist ideas to crime and deviance.
Probably most damaging from today’s perspective is the neglect of women; this must lead
to a questioning of the level at which critical criminology can be thought of as a ‘fully social
theory of crime’. With the exception of Angela McRobbie and Jenny Garber’s chapter on
girls and subculture, Resistance through Rituals reflects a fixation with the young male deviant.
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McRobbie and Garber (1976) discovered that for girls culture is constructed around the
home; the bedroom is the teenage girl’s ‘hang-out’. However, for the young male research-
ers of the time this rendered them less exciting than the lads on the streets. As McRobbie
(1980) later commented, there was little interest in the sociology of the family or what went
on in the domestic sphere; ‘only what happened out there on the streets mattered’ (p. 39).
In Women, Crime and Criminology: A Feminist Critique, Carol Smart (1976) berated the
failure of the ‘new, critical, radical and working class criminologies’ (p. 182) to seriously
consider women and feminist theory. The emphasis on male deviance meant that, although
the oppressive violence of authority was a constant theme for Taylor, Walton and Young and
those associated with the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, the victimisation of
women by men was afforded scant attention (Mooney, 2000). In many ways this neglect of
women was typical of its time. As Frances Heidensohn discovered in the late 1960s when
starting to research women and crime, her choice of topic was often greeted with puzzle-
ment and incomprehension or, at best, ‘polite disinterest’ (Mooney, 2010, p. 257), although
one would have hoped, given the commitment of critical criminology to radical politics and
social justice, that this would not have been the case here. For as Jeanne Gregory (1986)
pointed out, ‘a criminology rooted in Marxism is equipped with a sophisticated set of con-
ceptual tools for analysing oppression and would . . . seem ideally suited to understanding
the oppression of women’ (p. 62). However, the male-centredness of the academy meant for
the most part that critical criminology and feminist theory in Britain developed separately.
The legacy of critical criminology
Despite the importance of such criticisms, there is no doubt that critical criminology has
had, and continues to have, a considerable impact on the study of crime and deviance and
the reaction to these phenomena both in Britain and on the writing of British academ-
ics working abroad, mainly North America (as in the work of David Brotherton, Piers
Beirne and Stuart Henry). Moreover, as Jock Young (2011) points out, the most insightful
textbooks have been written from a critical criminology perspective, for example Mark
Lanier and Stuart Henry’s Essential Criminology (Lanier & Henry, 2009), Ian Taylor’s (1999)
Crime in Context, Wayne Morrison’s (1995) Theoretical Criminology: From Modernity to Post-
Modernism and John Lea’s (2002) Crime and Modernity. Furthermore, critical criminology
inspired path-breaking ethnographic studies such as David Brotherton’s work on the Latin
Kings and Queens, Pat Carlen’s (1996) research into youth homelessness and important
policy studies on youth and justice (Muncie, 2009; Pitts, 2001). Likewise, it has been the
politics behind ‘investigative criminology’ as in Phil Scraton’s (2000) exploration of the
Hillsborough disaster and Simon Hallsworth’s research on gangs, and provided the critical
foundations for work on the criminology of war (Jamieson, 1998, 1999), state crime (Green
& Ward, 2004) and green criminology (South & Beirne, 2006).
Critical criminology gave rise to a number of key developments in theory. In 1979
Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister of Britain with an administration of the radical
right, close in politics to Ronald Reagan but perhaps more sharply defined and acerbic. This
was a government intent on advancing market society and cutting back on the welfare state.
The crime rate rose and the critical foundations laid down in the 1970s with respect to class,
poverty, crime and deviance led to the emergence of left realism. The founding text of left
realism was What Is to Be Done about Law and Order? (Lea & Young, 1984), which was directly
influenced by Ian Taylor’s (1982) Law and Order: Arguments for Socialism. Much of the work
came out of the Centre for Criminology at Middlesex Polytechnic and the criminologists
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who worked there, including Jock Young, John Lea, Roger Matthews and Kate Painter,
together with Brian MacLean, a visiting Canadian professor, and Richard Kinsey from
the University of Edinburgh. At the core of left realism was the acknowledgement of the
need to take crime seriously with respect to its impact on communities and particularly on
women. It embraced the need for an activist – not revolutionary, but reformist – approach
with the advocating of short-term interventions, as well as long-term structural change,
aimed at improving the quality of life of those in inner-city areas.
Left realism aimed to listen to the concerns of ordinary people and to reclaim the politics
of crime and disorder from the right. It set itself against the new administrative criminology,
pioneered by Home Office criminologists, which tended to downplay the problem of crime,
seeing fear of crime as more of a problem than crime itself. Left realism aimed to portray the
‘reality’ of crime as experienced in poor neighbourhoods. With this, it attacked what it felt
was the tendency of some critical criminologists – who left realists termed ‘left idealists’ – to
minimise the importance of working class crime by one-sidedly emphasising the crimes
of the powerful, such as those of the ruling class, the police, corporations and state agen-
cies. Left realists applied the label ‘left idealism’ to this strand of critical thinking not as a
comment on its perceived utopianism but philosophically because of a stress on ideas rather
than material reality (Young, 1986). Left realists charged left idealists with seeing ‘the war
against crime as a sidetrack from the class struggle, at best an illusion invented to sell news,
at worst an attempt to make the poor scapegoats by blaming their brutalizing circumstances
on themselves’ (Lea & Young, 1984, p. 1). This particular criticism disappointingly led to a
rather acrimonious period of debate between criminologists on the left, and, of course, splits
between those ostensibly on the same side are not helpful when trying to affect political
Policing the Crisis and later work produced by the Centre for Contemporary Cultural
Studies (e.g. The Empire Strikes Back, Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, 1982) led
to further analysis of the complexities of the role of and use (or misuse) of power by the
state. Paddy Hillyard’s work on the Northern Ireland situation helped to bring the main
ideas of Policing the Crisis up to date. As Stuart Hall (2009) commented, Hillyard’s contem-
porary exploration of the ‘exceptional state’ ‘picks up on an uncertainty in Policing about
committing itself as to when precisely the “drift” towards a law and order society became
an exceptional state” and whether the latter has arrived and is now the “normal” state of
affairs(p. xvi). Hillyard (2009) uses the same schema as Policing the Crisis for identifying
the elements by which an ‘exceptional state’ can be identified, with an additional focus on
the rise of ‘surveillance society’ that has occurred in the last 20 years or so. As he points out,
‘real-time surveillance of large sections of the population is now possible, further enhancing
the disciplinary, authoritarian society described in Policing the Crisis’ (ibid., p. 130). Hillyard’s
conclusion is that, although surveillance is a ‘key element’ by which an ‘exceptional state’
can be recognised, together with an expansion of informal social control and the move
from the use of the criminal law to the counter-terrorism law, the actual ‘defining point’ for
Britain was ‘the capacity to sanction and then condone the widespread killings of its own
citizens in an attempt to control Irish political violence’ (ibid., p. 142).
In much of the theoretical work on the state, the criminal justice system is identified
as the major apparatus of state control. In Joe Sim’s (2009) Punishment and Prisons: Power
and the Carceral State the brutality of the prison is emphasised; the prison remains ‘a place
where the old, punitive mentalities, and the often unaccountable infliction of physical and
psychological pain’ have stayed ‘central to the institution’s organization and the everyday
interactions that many staff (have) with the confined’ (p. 107). Those who are incarcerated
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are predominantly ‘the unemployed, the homeless, the mentally disturbed, the institu-
tionally brutalised, the sexually traumatised and the substance dependent’ (ibid., p. 118).
They are the people who have already had their fair share of disadvantage; the prison is
about the ‘penal management of poverty and inequality’ (ibid.). This, together with the
often-heard argument that prison does not work in terms of reducing the crime rate or
recidivism, leads Sim to propose an abolitionist stance towards the prison system similar to
that pioneered by critical criminologists in continental Europe, as in the writings of Nils
Christie and Thomas Mathieson from Norway and Herman Bianchi and Louk Hulsman
from Holland.
Moreover, as with the abolitionist movement in continental Europe, many British criti-
cal criminologists have provided a critique of what we mean by ‘crime’ and the extent to
which our definitions are still determined by the legal system. Indeed, Hillyard, Pantazis,
Tombs and Gordon (2004) have proposed that we need to move ‘beyond criminology’ and a
consideration of ‘crime’ per se to the study of social harm; that is, to ‘focus on all the different
types of harm people experience from the cradle to the grave’ (p. 1). This includes harm
associated with the state and with corporations, and harms that occur in the workplace, arise
from poverty and so on. They argue that it is nonsensical to separate out those harms that
meet the definition of criminal from all other harms; all harm should be considered together
otherwise ‘a very distorted view of the world will be produced’ (ibid., p. 2). For instance,
it makes no difference whether a person dies from an act that is deliberately intended or
is accidental or through indifference; ‘they are still dead with all the social and economic
consequences for their family and friends’ (ibid., p. 1).
Finally, a fairly recent development in critical criminology is that of cultural criminology,
which although pioneered in the United States has emerged as a joint enterprise between
British and North American criminologists (Ferrell et al., 2004, 2008; Ferrell, 2005; Presdee,
2000; Ferrell & Saunders, 1995). Building on C. Wright Mills’ emphasis on the necessity of
putting human beings in their historical and structural settings, cultural criminology aims
to provide an understanding of crime and deviance in the late modern period. As its name
implies, crime and deviance and the reaction to them are viewed as ‘cultural projects’. Thus,
whereas orthodox criminology takes culture away from crime and deviance, cultural crimi-
nology puts it back in – culture being seen as ‘the stuff of collective meaning and identity’
(Ferrell et al., 2008, p. 2). Human agency and creativity are foregrounded and there is a clear
lineage to be drawn from the subcultural studies of the American new deviancy theorists
writing in the period from 1955 to the 1960s, to those of the Centre for Contemporary
Cultural Studies in the 1970s and present-day work in cultural criminology. With its focus
on culture and crime and deviance, or to put it another way ‘on meaning and transgression’,
cultural criminology has a unique perspective on the nature of social life and interaction.
For it is positioned precisely at ‘those points where norms are imposed and threatened, laws
enacted and broken, rules negotiated and renegotiated’, and this
inevitably exposes the on-going tension between cultural maintenance, cultural dis-
order, and cultural regeneration – and so, from the view of cultural criminology the
everyday actions of criminals, police officers and judges offer not just insights into
criminal justice but important glimpses into the very process by which social life is
constructed and reconstructed . . . this subject matter in turn reveals the complex,
contested dynamic between cultures of control (control agencies’ downward symbolic
constructions) and cultures of deviance (rule breakers’ upwards counter-constructions).
(ibid., p. 4–5)
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Political engagement is paramount for cultural criminologists; there is ‘no neat choice
between political involvement and criminological analysis’ (ibid., p. 13). Although they do
not contend that capitalism structures all social life (attention must likewise be given to
patriarchy and racism in order to provide an understanding of crime and inequality), it is
‘the currently ascendant form of economic exploitation’ (ibid., p. 14) and must therefore be
confronted as such.
Cultural criminologists contend that ‘oppositional criminological scholarship’ (ibid.,
p. 13) can help us begin to move towards a more socially just world and it is this that is at the
heart of critical criminology. Faced in the present period with a Conservative government
in Britain – the more leftist sentiments of its liberal democratic partners having largely
been silenced – the welfare state is once more under attack. We have increased levels of
unemployment, poverty and deprivation together with serious cut backs in higher education
which threaten to once again exclude the less privileged. Crackdowns on anti-social behav-
iour have meant more people being drawn into the ever-widening net of the criminal justice
system. The last New Labour government was guilty of human rights abuses having been
complicit in the torture of terrorist suspects abroad; the current Conservative administra-
tion is, at the time of writing, turning a ‘blind-eye’ to the involvement of British companies
in the supply of drugs necessary for executions in the United States. Providing a cultural
reflection on our times, Clive Stafford Smith (2010) of the organisation Reprieve5 notes
that Vince Cable, the Business Minister, seems more concerned about his performance on
Strictly Come Dancing than about the lives of condemned prisoners. As Joe Sim put it, the
world seems ‘devoid of the human and the humane’ and, as such, it is the responsibility of
those on the left to try to do something about it.
1 First called the National Deviancy Symposium.
2 Mario Simondi, Stan Cohen, K arl Schumann, with Ian Taylor, were instrumental in creating
a European version of the NDC – the European Group for the Study of Deviance and Social
Control. Described by Stan Cohen (1998) as ‘an instrumental force in bringing together like
minded scholars’ (p. 101), the European Group held its first meeting in Florence in 1972 and still
holds annual conferences today (see http://ww
3 Many of those involved in critical criminology were, however, also interested in anarchist debates.
Stan Cohen, Jock Young, David Downes and Ian Taylor all wrote for Anarchy.
4 The substantive requirements of the theory were further clarified in The New Criminology Revisited
by Walton and Young (1998).
5 Reprieve campaigns on behalf of the human rights of prisoners, from those on death row to those
in Guantánamo Bay (http://ww
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Young (Eds.), Confronting crime. London: Sage.
Young, J. (2002). Critical criminology in the twenty first century: Critique, irony and the always
unfinished. In K. Carrington & R. Hogg (Eds.), Critical criminology: Issues, debates, challenges.
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Young, J. (2011). The criminological imagination. Cambridge: Polity.
... The emergence of critical criminology Polletta (2006) argues that bouts of collective action are set against narratives that report injustice and suggest that a (socially subjective) 'fairer' world can emerge from the mobilisation. A narrative that we do not wish to disrupt has been widely told about roots of British critical criminology can be traced back to the 1968 National Deviancy Conference (hereon NDC), held at York University (see Carlen, 2002;Jefferson, 2021;Mooney, 2011;Pavlich and Brannigan, 2007;Young, 2011). This narrative offers a group of scholars who sought to collaborate to develop a 'fairer' way of understanding crime and criminality than 'official' and Home Office analysis (Ruggiero, 2021). ...
... As Rock argues (above), the book gave birth to a new -Marxist-influenced -way of understanding 'crime and criminality' in which they sought to build upon the symbolic interactionists critiques by placing this within a conflict theory perspective to try to examine the dynamics of society as a whole. Hence, the aim of creating 'a fully social theory' of crime and deviance was born (Mooney, 2011). Alongside the Marxist assumptions about the economic base largely controlling individual behaviour, The New Criminology made two sizable methodological and philosophical contributions to understanding crime which clearly broke from the official approaches. ...
... However, at the final NDC conference -held in 1979 -Jock Young coined the term 'left idealism' to refer to the first wave of critical criminology and began to give preference to a second wave of 'left realism' critical criminology. This showed a clear fracture in the group's previous theoretical unity (Mooney, 2011). Also in 1979, Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister of Britain with an administration of the radical -and new -right. ...
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This is a draft copy only. I did not upload the finalised form but have found a copy of it here: Sport, Criminology
... Nove teorije devijacije koje se tiču označavanja i stigmatizacije naglasile su potrebu za razvijanje osećaja za nevolje bespomoćnih, marginalizovanih i onih čiji se glas ne čuje (Downes and Rock 2011); lako je utvrditi kako su principi i naglašavanja ovog talasa inovacije u sociologiji i kriminologiji uticali na stavove u vezi tretiranja domorodaca i nepravde prema okolini. Uticaj Marksista ili kritičke kriminologije (Mooney 2013;Taylor et al. 1973), u raznim permutacijama, naglašava zločine moćnih i jačanje predrasuda u dominantnim okvirima zakona. Kritička pitanja u vezi prirode prava privatne svojine nasuprot ideje životne sredine kao zajedničkog nasleđa će se neizbežno javiti. ...
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This paper traces aspects of the development of a 'green' criminology. It starts with personal reflections and then describes the emergence of explicit statements of a green criminological perspective. Initially these statements were independently voiced in different parts of the world but they reflected shared concerns. These works have found unification as a 'green', 'eco-global' or 'conservation' criminology. The paper reviews the classifications available when talking about not only legally - defined crimes but also legally perpetrated harms, as well as typologies of such harms and crimes. It then looks at the integration of 'green' and 'traditional' criminological thinking before briefly exploring four dimensions of concern for today and the future.
... Contemporary critical criminology originated in the United States and the United King dom (DeKeseredy & Dragiewicz, 2018B;Michalowski, 2012;Mooney, 2012), but the field is now characterized by international collaboration and intellectual cross-fertilization. What Schwendinger, Schwendinger, and Lynch (2008) refer to as "compatible perspec tives" are also found in countries such as Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Cuba, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden (Ugwudike, 2015). ...
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There is no single critical criminology. Rather, there are critical criminologies with differ ent histories, methods, theories, and political perspectives. However, critical criminology is often defined as a perspective that views the major sources of crime as the unequal class, race/ethnic, and gender relations that control our society. Critical criminologists op pose prisons and other draconian means of social control. Their main goal is major radi cal and cultural change, but they recognize that these transitions will not occur in the current neoliberal era. Hence, most critical criminologists propose short-term anticrime policies and practices and fundamental social, economic, and political transformations, such as a change from a capitalist economy to one based on more socialist principles.
... New deviancy theories concerned with labelling and stigmatisation had emphasised the need for sensitivity to the plight of the powerless, marginalised and voiceless (Downes and Rock IJCJ&SD 9 Online version via © 2014 3(2) 2011) and it is easy to see how the principles and emphases of this wave of innovation in the sociology of deviance and criminology informs thinking about speciesism, the treatment of indigenous peoples and environmental injustice. The influence of Marxist or critical criminology (Mooney 2013;Taylor et al. 1973), in various permutations, highlighted the crimes of the powerful and the entrenchment of bias within dominant frameworks of law. Critical questions about the nature of private property rights versus the idea of the environment as a shared heritage to be held in common for all inevitably follow. ...
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This paper traces aspects of the development of a ‘green’ criminology. It starts with personal reflections and then describes the emergence of explicit statements of a green criminological perspective. Initially these statements were independently voiced, in different parts of the world but they reflected shared concerns. These works have found unification as a ‘green’, ‘eco‐global’ or ‘conservation’ criminology. The paper reviews the classifications available when talking about not only legally‐defined crimes but also legally perpetrated harms, as well as typologies of such harms and crimes. It then looks at the integration of ‘green’ and ‘traditional’ criminological thinking before briefly exploring four dimensions of concern for today and the future.
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The concept of critical criminology – that crime and the present-day processes of criminalization are rooted in the core structures of society – is of more relevance today than it has been at any other time. Written by an internationally renowned scholar, Contemporary Critical Criminology introduces the most up-to-date empirical, theoretical, and political contributions made by critical criminologists around the world. In its exploration of this material, the book also challenges the erroneous but widely held notion that the critical criminological project is restricted to mechanically applying theories to substantive topics, or to simply calling for radical political, economic, cultural, and social transformations. Now fully updated and expanded in a new edition, this book offers further coverage of new directions in critical criminology, such as green criminology, indigenous criminology, intersectionality, narrative criminology, rural critical criminology, queer criminology, semiology, critical research methods, and contemporary critical criminological policies.
This article builds on previous work that argues that a useful path for a “queer/ed criminology” to follow is one that takes “queer” to denote a position. It suggests that one way of developing such an approach is to adopt a particular understanding of critique—specifically one that draws from Michel Foucault’s view of critique as “the art of not being governed.” It then charts some of the possible directions for such a “queer/ed criminology.” While such an approach to critique has previously been discussed within critical criminologies, this article suggests that it is useful for queer criminologists to explore the opportunities that it affords, particularly in order to better appreciate how “queer/ed criminology” might connect to, draw from, or push against other currents among critical criminologies, and help to delineate the unique contribution that this kind of “queer/ed criminology” might make.
In 1973 The New Criminology was published and quickly established itself as a key textbook in criminology, casting a major influence over a generation of scholars. It has remained in print ever since. This volume, published twenty-five years later, traces the major developments in the field including feminism, postmodernism, critical criminology and realism. The articles are by leading authorities from Britain, the United States and Australia and include Stan Cohen, Elliott Currie, Pat Carlen and Kerry Carrington as well as separate commentaries by the three original authors themselves: Ian Taylor, Paul Walton and Jock Young.
A social science which has become so remote from the society which pays for its upkeep is ultimately doomed, threatened less by repression than by intellectual contempt and financial neglect. This is the message of the authors of this book in this reassessment of the evolution and present state of British sociology. Their investigation analyses the discipline as a social institution, whose product is inexorably shaped by the everyday circumstances of its producers; it is the concrete outcome of people’s work, rather than a body of abstract ideas. Drawing upon their varied experience as teachers and researchers, they identify three major trends in contemporary sociology. First, that the discipline’s rapid expansion has led to a retreat from rigorous research into Utopian and introspective theorising. Second, that the concept of sociological research is being taught in a totally false way because of this, and encourages ‘research’ within a wholly academic environment. Third, that the current unpopularity of sociology with academics, prospective students and politicians is no coincidence, but a reflection of the conditions under which sociology is now produced and practised. In Sociology and Social Research the authors suggest substantial changes in sociological research, the way in which it is carried out and the conditions under which it is undertaken. Their book is a timely warning to fellow sociologists when the profession is under attack as a result of public expenditure cuts. © 1981 G. Payne, R. Dingwall, J. Payne, M. Carter. All rights reserved.
This book describes Sir Leon Radzinowicz's long, distinguished and varied career. Beginning with his studies under Enrico Ferri at the famous Italian school of positivist criminology, it traces in a unique way developments in criminological thought and penal practices in the countries in which he taught and carried out research during the inter-war years (Switzerland, Belgium and his native Poland). Shortly before the Second World War he came to England to study the penal system. In 1959 he became the first professor of criminology and the first director of the Institute of Criminology in Cambridge. This book closes with two chapters which reflect on the current state of criminal justice and the prospects for criminology.