Police accountability is among the most prominent criminal justice issues in America today. Accounts of police misconduct captured by new communication and information technologies have played a central role in elevating this issue. On the continental US, the Black Lives Matter movement has driven these events, lodging the political debate in the larger context of racial inequality. In Hawaii, a parallel but distinctive series of events has occurred. A push for greater police accountability has emerged, but it has been more closely associated with gender relations than race relations and has involved women in political office rather than street protests. The Hawaii case also provides some generalizable lessons, particularly regarding the context-specific roles that gender and race relations play, and the potential for video evidence in promoting police reform.
Poor-blaming and poor-shaming have become intrinsic parts of the neoliberal order. For neoliberal discourse to enter and to dominate wider public ‘common sense’, vehicles of ‘populist language’ are required and the mass media has taken a central place in propagandising neoliberalism through their narration of poverty. This article focuses on so-called ‘reality TV’ and its neoliberal framing of the poor, particularly since 2007 and specifically in its generation of support for, and acquiescence in, ‘austerity’. We argue that what these programmes provide is a representation of poverty which is politically expedient but socially divisive. As criminologists, we suggest that this representation symbolises the intensification of what Cohen (2002: xxi) noted as the prominence of ‘"welfare cheats", "social security frauds" and "dole scroungers" as fairly traditional folk devils. Further, we argue that an intensification in the denigration of the poor and the marginal in these programmes can be traced across three phases, from 2009 onwards, defined by their key features. Whilst not neatly discrete, these phases mirror the neoliberal political shift from welfare to punishment. They manufacture ‘epidemic problems’ that are seen to require urgent remediation. Yet the status and nature of these problems are defined through deception and the forms of intervention required are determined through individualised and moralised neoliberal prescription.
In Metro Vancouver, the recurrence of gang violence involving young South Asian men has spawned a series of public explanations about a new threat to public safety: the ‘Indo-Canadian gangster’. This article explicates the racial force of a specific exposé on the putatively ‘cultural’ origins of the Indo-Canadian gangster which identifies the domestic realm of the city’s South Asian populations as the principal cause of this gang violence. By tracking the trajectories of this exposé and other texts that take similar confessional forms, this article provides important insight into the differential capacity of texts to attract public attention and to persuade, by virtue of the narrative forms they assume as well as the semantic content of the knowledges they mobilize. On the one hand, this article documents the tropes of cultural inertia that characterize public knowledges of the ‘Indo-Canadian home’, which is configured as a domestic space that is culturally insulated from putatively Western norms of civility and legality. On the other hand, it explains how this exposé acquires its epistemic force from the confessional form of the knowledges it circulates, which acts as a mechanism of cultural interpellation for South Asian actors who are positioned to renounce and disavow the pathologies of Indo-Canadian culture.
Western media reporting on the post-9/11 Taliban regime in Afghanistan propagated the image of Afghani women as being helpless, voiceless victims in desperate need of external intervention to rescue them from oppression—i.e. the faceless woman dressed in the all-encompassing blue burqa. Contrary to such symbolizing, and drawing on Hayward and Schuilenburg’s (2014) criteria for resistance, this article examines the longevity and endurance of Pashtun poetry as a vehicle of resistance for women and girls in their fight against state-sanctioned patriarchal oppression. Not only does this undermine the broader narrative of helplessness propagated by the West, but it illuminates the agency, resilience, and bravery of women who challenge the status quo and achieve greater participation in public and political life.
This article explores websleuthing, a phenomenon widely discussed and debated in popular culture but little-researched by criminologists. Drawing upon a review of existing literature and analysis of news media representations, we argue that websleuthing is much more diverse than previously thought. Encompassing a wide range of motives, manifestations, activities, networked spaces and cases, websleuthing has a variety of impacts upon victims, secondary victims, suspects, criminal justice organisations and websleuths themselves. We conclude that websleuthing is the embodiment of true crime infotainment in a ‘wound culture’ (Seltzer, 2007, 2008) and as such, is deserving of more criminological scrutiny than has been the case to date.
Although female sex offenders have received increased scholarly attention in recent years, and have also gained widespread media attention, minimal research has focused specifically on public perceptions of their behavior. This study explores the nature of public perceptions of a group of offenders on which the media often focus—female teachers who assault adolescent male students—by examining reader comments posted on five Huffington Post articles published from November 2010 to November 2013. Using a thematic coding methodology to analyze over 900 online comments, we found that most comments recognize a current double standard in the sentencing process for female teacher sex offenders compared to their male counterparts. Comments also rely on traditional sexual scripts and/or gender role expectations to either acknowledge or deny a victim’s presence. Contrary to existing research that examined public perceptions and found that more punitive attitudes were expressed toward male sex offenders, these results suggest that the public believes in equality in sentencing for all sex offenders, regardless of gender. These results also confirm prior studies that find that the public perceives adolescent male victims of rape by older women "lucky."
The emotional reaction and outrage following the publication of photographs of Alan Kurdi who drowned while crossing borders in September 2015 highlighted the major impact visual representations of refugee deaths at border crossings can have on public opinions and political will. The impact of these photographs also shows that depictions of deaths as a result of border crossings are relatively rare in the media; analyses of such representations and their potential impact on policy are also neglected in the literature. This article offers a commentary on the key themes linked to visual representations of refugee deaths at border crossings by considering three recent examples, and argues for further interdisciplinary discussions on such images. It focuses on two points: that depicting refugees alone has a greater impact on viewers and is more likely to trigger sympathy or outrage; concurrently, that anonymity can reduce viewers’ ability to connect with the tragedy. This discussion adds to the body of literature on the links between media representations and policymaking, and on the mediation of human vulnerability through visual means. The themes outlined here have much currency in contemporary discussions on refugee deaths at border crossings.
This article examines one of the less frequently considered elements of riots: the emotions to which they give rise. Based on testimony from interviews with people who took part in the 2011 England riots, it explores the curiosity which drew many onto the streets, the excitement and fear involved in such quickly unfolding and unpredictable events, the impunity that many felt being part of such large crowds, together with the sense of ‘empowerment’ many experienced as a consequence of their involvement. The article suggests that a number of concepts regularly deployed within cultural criminology – most obviously ‘carnival’ and ‘edgework’ – are useful in understanding elements of the emotional world of the riot. More fundamentally, however, it is argued that what the accounts describe more than anything else is a pervading sense of ‘alienation’ among many of those involved in the disorder.
Editors Michelle Brown and Eamonn Carrabine interview filmmaker Brett Story about her recent documentary, The Prison in Twelve Landscapes.
Spurred by the advent of the Internet and the camera phone, in the early 21st century street fighting met the information superhighway. Today, one of the key vehicles accelerating this turn are Facebook fight pages: user-generated content aggregation pages that publicly host footage of street fights, and other forms of bare-knuckle violence on the popular social networking site. Drawing on observational data collected from five popular fight pages, and survey data from 205 fight page users, this article explores the different forms of bare-knuckle violence hosted on these online domains and their users’ motivations for viewing it. Through doing so, it examines eleven distinct modes of spectating bare-knuckle violence on fight pages: entertainment, consumptive deviance, righteous justice, amusement, self-affirmation, nostalgia, boredom alleviation, intrigue, self-defence training and risk awareness. Additionally, I argue that to understand these modes of spectating bare-knuckle violence, we have to address the codes of masculinity that underlie not only much of the violence hosted on fight pages, but also spectators’ readings of these events.
After a homicide, survivors are thrust into relationships with a myriad of professionals. For cold case homicide survivors, these relationships are likely to develop into long-term, persistent interactions. Interviews from 24 cold case homicide survivors in the United States reveal that media professionals are often the source of additional trauma, and yet, most survivors expressed a need for continued communication and continued coverage of their case. Utilizing social constructivist grounded theory for data collection and analysis, common themes emerging from the survivors’ stories include inadequate coverage of the case, inaccurate portrayal of victim or information, negative reactions to the media, and positive experiences and desire for long-term coverage. Implications and recommendations for survivors and media professionals are detailed within.
Visual and cultural criminology are integrated with documentary filmmaking to develop a theoretically grounded, practice-based approach called ‘documentary criminology’. The first section establishes the need for documentary filmmaking in criminology and outlines methodological opportunities. The second section examines theoretically the aesthetics and substance of documentary criminology. The third section takes the film Girl Model (Redmon and Sabin, 2011) as a case study to demonstrate how documentary criminology embedded in lived experience (in this case, the experience of scouts that recruit young Russian girls, purportedly for the modelling industry) can depict sensuous immediacy. The final section contrasts the aesthetic and ethical consequences of documentary criminology within Carrabine’s (2012, 2014) concept of ‘just’ images to a documentary filmmaking approach that remains interpretively open-ended. Readers can access Girl Model at https://vimeo.com/29694894 with the password industry.
This article brings to attention and explores women’s use of non-traditional forms of resistance to online sexual harassment. In this piece we use Anna Gensler’s Instagram art project Instagranniepants to examine how women are appropriating the language and practices of the cyber realm to expose online sexual harassment and to engender a creative resistance which is critical, comedic and entertaining. Drawing from interdisciplinary literature on witnessing, satire and shaming, we explore the techniques Gensler uses to not only document harassment but also resist, engage and punish those who seek to perpetrate it. This article problematises the stereotype of women as passive victims of online public spaces, and is critical of popular discourses that portray online spaces as exclusively risky and that position women as the natural victims of online violence. It concludes that a more nuanced account of women’s negotiation of online spaces is necessary, particularly as an overarching narrative of risk and victimisation undermines the liberatory potential of the online realm.
Starting from the premise that experience is narratively constituted and actions are oriented through the self as the protagonist in an evolving story, narrative criminology investigates how narratives motivate and sustain offending. Reviewing narrative criminological research, this article contends that narrative criminology tends towards a problematic dualism of structure and agency, locating agency in individual narrative creativity and constraint in structure and/or culture. This article argues for a different conceptualisation of narrative as embodied, learned and generative, drawing on Bourdieu’s notion of habitus. Social action, which here includes storytelling, is structured via the habitus, which generates but does not determine social action. This theorisation understands structures and representations as existing in duality, according a more powerful role to storytelling. The article concludes by discussion of the implications of such a shift for narrative interventions towards offending.
In the field of celebrity studies much has been written about the superficiality of contemporary celebrity culture in which ordinary individuals are recognised as exceptional or worthy of public attention in the absence of any particular talent, contribution or achievement (Bell, 2010; Boorstin, 1972; Gamson, 1994; Langer in Edgar, 1980; Marwick and boyd, 2011; Redmond, 2013; Rojek, 2001; Turner, 2004, 2014; Turner et al., 2000). Much less has been written about the link between celebrity and criminality and the types of categories into which celebrified criminals fall (Jenks and Lorentzen, 1997; Penfold-Mounce, 2009). In the scant studies that do exist there is a thinness of attention to gender despite persuasive arguments within feminist criminological studies that crime is a gendered concept in news discourse (Jewkes, 2011; Smart, 1977). Using a qualitative content analysis of a selection of news articles on two high profile cases involving women convicted of a crime, Lindy Chamberlain (now exonerated) and Schapelle Corby, as well as recent work in the sociology of risk on desire and transgression, this research suggests that the current naming practices surrounding criminally implicated women do not adequately capture the constellation of gender-inflected media messages and the meanings with which they are imbued by sections of news workers. The implications of this research warrant a re-think of the customary labels ascribed to women convicted of a crime and the addition to existing taxonomies of a new category of celebrity, the ‘deviant diva’.
This paper engages the cultural politics of criminal classifications by aiming at one of the state’s most powerful, yet ambiguous markers—the ‘gang.’ Focusing on the unique cases of ‘crews’ and collectives within the ‘straight edge’ and ‘Juggalo’ subcultures, this paper considers what leads members of the media and police to construct—or fail to construct—these street collectives as gangs in a seemingly haphazard and disparate fashion. Juxtaposing media, cultural, and police representations of straight edge ‘crews’ and Juggalo collectives with the FBI’s Gang Threat Assessment, we detail how cultural politics and ideology underpin the social reality of gangs and thus the application of the police power. This paper, furthermore, considers critical conceptualizations of the relationship between police and criminal gangs.
This article focuses on the commercial cultivation of cannabis in England. Based on extensive ethnographic fieldwork with organised crime groups in disadvantaged locales, we argue that the rapid growth of cannabis cultivation is not the preserve of ‘ghosts, gangs and good sorts’. Rather, these new markets reflect significant socio-cultural and technological transformations and the involvement of independent entrepreneurial criminals who, for the most part, come from impoverished neighbourhoods that have experienced, in recent years, a significant decline in legitimate job opportunities. This article offers new empirical data that shed light upon the organisation of commercial cannabis cultivation. It also challenges dominant academic accounts of these markets.
Does cultural criminology have a distinct intellectual mission? How might it be defined? I suggest analyzing three levels of social interaction. At the first level, the culture of crime used by those committing crimes and the process of creating representations of crime in the news, entertainment products, and political position statements proceed independently. At the second level, there is asymmetrical interaction between those creating images of crime and those committing crime: offenders use media images to create crime, but cultural representations of crime in the news, official statistics, and entertainment are developed without drawing on what offenders do when they commit crime, or vice versa. At a third level, we can find symmetrical, recursive interactions between the cultures used to do crime and cultures created by media, popular culture, and political expressions about crime. Using the "Rodney King Riots" as an example, I illustrate the looping interactions through which actors on the streets, law enforcement officials, and politicians and news media workers, by taking into account each other’s past and likely responses, develop an episode of anarchy through multiple identifiable stages and transformational contingencies.
This article seeks to understand the mass murders that took place at Dunblane in 1996 and to consider if we might see aspects of this mass shooting as prophetic of other mass murders, such as those that took place at Columbine, Sandy Hook and on Utoya Island. It does this by using what we describe as a ‘criminological autopsy’ about the shootings and, in doing so, considers why this mass murder – still the worst in British history – has rarely been considered within criminology.
This study aims to address the gap in Arab media scholarship on the representation of gender-based violence. Despite the prevalence and normalisation of gender-based violence in Jordan, no scholarly engagements exist that unpack the role of the media in fostering this social acceptance. This paper aims to critically analyse the media’s role by adopting a comparative approach to two types of femicide which have made headlines in the country: the first, a single mega murder which occurred in December 2013, and the second, a number of so-called honour crimes which occurred in 2008–2014. It argues that while both are manifestations of sexual violence, Jordanian media approach these femicides in wildly different ways and rank their victims differently. Drawing on criminological engagements with victimology, homicide and the media, the paper reveals the implicit assumptions and practices of Jordanian news media. This analysis is located within its Jordanian context, where violence against women, and even so-called honour crimes, are normalised.
Stories make harmful actions both plausible and compelling. They provide a lot of what qualitative researchers consider data, but as a discursive form have received only scant attention in criminology. From interviews with imprisoned drug dealers in Norway, this paper identifies three forms of narrative: first, life-stories summarizing and reducing the immense complexity of individual lives; second, stories about particular events such as narrative turning points in life-stories, but also less significant episodes; finally, tropes that only hint at familiar stories. These different narrative forms are crucial in understanding the manifold and central role of stories in society. They can only be understood as part of the interactional context of storytelling, and as proposed by narrative criminology, their effects are essential for understanding crime and harmful action. In this paper I argue that tropes are the most salient forms of narrative. They are indicative of that which ‘goes without saying’, and can be used to identify both ambiguity and hegemonic discourse. In such efforts narrative criminology needs to move beyond interpretation of full narratives, to include reconstruction of stories from tropes.
Though contemporary discourse on cosmopolitanism has celebrated a cosmopolitan subject’s "rootedness" in two worlds – i.e. the polis and the cosmos – this emphasis has evaded analysis of the historical and damning term "rootless cosmopolitan." Under the totalitarianisms of Nazism and late Stalinism, a "rootless cosmopolitan" was a life-threatening epithet aimed at those people, namely "the Jews," criminalized for supposedly lacking national allegiance and affiliating with foreign cultures. This paper argues that an ethical problem arises when cosmopolitanism is understood in cultural terms. To illuminate this problem in the particular, this paper interprets Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, specifically the novel’s nationalistic themes and its cosmopolitan villain, Peter Petrovich Luzhin. In the unfolding analysis that draws from scholarship in cultural criminology, it is revealed that the Russian writer’s designated masterful genius helped fuel one of the greatest crimes in history (the Holocaust) perpetrated against a people accused of cosmopolitanism. It is argued that interpreting the criminalization of Luzhin provides an allegorical occasion to gain conceptual clarity on present articulations of cosmopolitanism as a cultural construct. Attending to Dostoevsky’s anti-cosmopolitanism, and those whom he has in/directly influenced on this subject, provides a rationale for critiquing cultural cosmopolitanism – a construct that is conceptually and materially dangerous.
This article is concerned with ideas of urban order and considers the scope for playing with people’s expectations of order. In particular, drawing on criminological, philosophical and urban studies literatures, the article explores the notion of aesthetic order. The power to dictate aesthetic order is highlighted. The example of urban interventionism is used to consider those that challenge an approved aesthetic order. Here the article draws on cultural criminology and visual criminology, with illustrations coming from research in Toronto, Canada. Influenced by Alison Young’s (2014a) conceptualisation of ‘cities within the city’, the article considers how different people using the same space have different or overlapping ways of understanding aesthetic order. Of relevance to criminology, it is contended that people or things that contravene an approved aesthetic order may face banishment and criminalisation. It is concluded that respect for such difference is required. An aesthetic criminology is suggested.
This article investigates how proactive police image work contends with the politics of queer history by drawing from aspects of affect theory. It asks: How does police image work engage with or respond to ongoing histories of state violence and queer resistance? And why does this matter? To explore these questions, the article provides a case study of the Victorian Pride March in 2002. It analyzes textual representations of Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon’s participation in the parade to show how histories of homophobic police violence can be used strategically to fortify a positive police image among LGBT people and the wider community. Police image work carried out at Pride March becomes a means of legitimizing past policing practices with the aim of overcoming poor and antagonistic LGBT-police relations. The visibility of police at Pride March, this analysis suggests, contributes to the normalization of queerness as a site to be continually policed and regulated. Image work here also buttresses police reputation against the negative press associated with incidents of police brutality. This investigation contributes to the literature on police communications and impression management by demonstrating how police can mobilize negative aspects of their organizational history as an important part of police image work in the present.
The display of maternal suffering is powerful, as the bereaved mother’s experience represents any parent’s deepest fear. When her pain is enmeshed with calls to support changes in our justice systems, it has the potential to bring about unconstitutional effects, for a mother’s love has no end and so her life sentence can only be addressed with equal amounts of endless suffering for the said offender (Valier and Lippens, 2004). This paper explores the construction of the bereaved mother figure as a victim-hero within contemporary media enacted crime narratives. It examines two murder cases in the New Zealand context where a bereaved mother’s displays of grief can be linked to changes made to the legal code. It will be argued that the character of the bereaved mother as a victim-hero has become a powerful agent of change that has implications for criminal justice system modification. It is argued that critical attention is required of criminology to the role of the good mother in criminal justice discourses, and in particular to the ways in which the good mother is characterised in mediated public discourses.
In recent years, digital vigilantism, often dubbed ‘paedophile hunting’, has grabbed media headlines in the US, UK and Europe. Though this novel style of policing carries no legal or moral authority, it is nonetheless ‘taking hold’ within a pluralised policing landscape where its effectiveness at apprehending child sex offenders is capturing public attention. While the emergence of digital vigilantism raises normative questions of where the boundaries of citizen involvement in policing affairs might be drawn, this paper is concerned with firstly, how this kind of citizen-led policing initiative comes into being; secondly, how it emerges as an identifiable policing form; and thirdly, how it acquires leverage and makes its presence felt within a mixed economy of (authorised) policing actors, sites and technologies. The paper sets out a detailed case study of a ‘paedophile hunter’ in action, read through a provocative documentary film, first broadcast on mainstream UK television in October 2014. This lays the groundwork for thinking through the cultural relations of digital vigilantism, and how this proliferating mode of policing practice is engendered and mobilised through affective connectivities, performative political imaginaries and culturally-mediated dialogical praxis. In seeking an entry point for theorising emergent policing forms and their connectedness to other policing bodies, spaces and things, the paper concludes with a thumbnail sketch of assemblage thinking.
This article examines the markedly contrasting fates of two recent female protagonist led police series, the dismally received Prime Suspect USA (NBC, 2011) and widely celebrated The Fall (BBC, 2013– ), asking what the reception of each suggests about the state of play for women in TV crime drama in today’s postfeminist culture. What do women cops need to do to make the cut in an era in which, on the one hand, it seems they are more prevalent and have more opportunities than ever before (Gerrard, 2014); but also, on the flip side of this, in which they must somehow offer something ‘extra’ to survive in an era where the presence of a female detective in itself is no longer an innovation or novelty? In an era in which, to adopt Angela McRobbie’s much-cited phrase, ‘feminism has been taken into account’ (2007: 255), how can these series’ invocation of feminism or ‘feminist issues’ be understood as fundamental to their respective demise and triumph? I argue that, crucially, Prime Suspect USA’s account of sexist bullying in the NYPD was greeted as hackneyed and overblown, where The Fall spoke adroitly to a media culture in which ratings can be won via a superficial but glossily packaged nod to the female detective’s postfeminist ‘progress’, while relishing misogynistic violence. Hence the article also asks, what implications does an inquiry of the kind undertaken here – where interrogation of the genre combines comparative text-based analysis with critical reflection on the author’s own perturbed response to the eroticisation of violence against women in The Fall – have for future models of feminist criticism of TV crime drama?
The removal of street art from community walls for private auction is a morally problematic yet legal action. This paper examines community reactions to the removal of Banksy’s No Ball Games for private auction. Five hundred unique reader comments on online newspaper articles reporting this controversial event were collected and analyzed. An emerging set of urban moral codes was used to position street art as a valuable community asset rather than as an index of crime and social decay. The latter discourse informed a repertoire that depicted No Ball Games as unlawful graffiti that was rightfully removed. Here, the operations of ‘the police’ (Rancière, 1998: 17) in the distribution of the sensible are evident in the assertions that validate and depoliticize the removal of No Ball Games. This repertoire was used to attribute responsibility for the work’s removal to deterministic external forces, while reducing the accountability attributable to those responsible for the removal of the work. A contrasting anti-removal repertoire depicted street art as a gift to the community, and its removal as a form of theft and a source of harm to the community. The pro-removal repertoire incorporates and depoliticizes elements of the anti-removal repertoire, by acknowledging the moral wrong of the removal, but yielding to the legal rights of the wall owners to sell the work; and by recognizing the status of street art as valuable, but asserting that the proper place for art is a museum. The anti-removal repertoire counters elements of the pro-removal repertoire, by acknowledging the illegality of street art, but containing this to the initial act of making unsanctioned marks on a wall, after which point the work becomes the property of the community it is located within. This analysis reveals an emergent set of urban moral codes that positions a currently legal action as a form of criminal activity.
The article explores the limitations of the dramaturgies of the cell through a close reading of several key play texts commissioned by the UK’s leading arts in criminal justice organisation working with women, Clean Break. The apparently humanist positioning of women in prison as just like everyone else erases the specificity of women’s backstories. Conversely, by adhering to the constructions of female prisoners as holding binary positions of either ‘monsters’ or ‘victims’ of the system, plays can re-inscribe morally unitary approaches to women’s deviance and resistance. Many plays about women in prison hold a claim for resisting stereotypes and are in opposition to the injustice of criminal justice processes, and yet, in the realist mode, the monster/ victim position seems to be an inescapable binary.
Research papers on prisons have occasionally been illustrated with photographs. Yet rarely have visual methods been used critically in prison ethnography; image-making and images themselves have been used illustratively rather than as constitutive sites of knowledge production and, therefore, as objects to be interrogated in their own right by the researcher through, for example, participant collaboration. This paper focuses on the use of ‘photo-elicitation’ interviewing as a method for unpacking prison officers’ use of force. The discussion is based on an ethnography conducted inside an Italian custodial complex that hosts both a forensic psychiatric hospital and a prison. Prison officers, psychiatric staff and prisoners were invited to discuss a number of images produced by the researcher–in the wing where they were working and/or living–representing the use of force and violence, thereby helping the researcher to address what Joe Sim (2008: 187) calls an ‘inconvenient criminological truth’ and at the same time giving the participants a voice.
In the aftermath of severe and unprecedented riots in a small Dutch town, local inhabitants express a broad and contradictory set of interpretations of what had happened and opinions on who should be held responsible. In order to understand this variety, we reinterpret Ewald’s theory on the transformations in the modern attitude towards risk and responsibility. Instead of distinct historical phases, the three attitudes identified by Ewald are simultaneously at play: punishment of delinquents, protection of victims, and precaution by the authorities. Only by taking all attitudes into account can we explain the variety of interpretations and the following, often contradictory, political responses. My findings also suggest that these three attitudes can be used as a model to make sense of contemporary security policies, which simultaneously emphasise punishment, protection, and precaution.
Copycat crimes have not been identified or measured in a coherent manner. To forward the study of copycat crime, a methodology was developed to empirically score crimes that are suspected of being copycat crimes on a scale from "unsubstantiated" to "substantiated". The copycat crime measure utilized seven factors culled from the extant literature to differentiate and score a demonstration set of 51 candidate copycat crimes associated with commercial entertainment films. Two examples of analysis and research questions that can be subsequently pursued utilizing the scoring approach are provided. A means of measuring copycat crime will provide interested researchers the capability to examine research questions related to copycat crime trends, media content and copycat crime, social media and copycat crime, and different types of copycat crime.
Albert Pierrepoint was Britain’s most famous 20th-century hangman. This article utilises diverse sources in order to chart his public representation, or cultural persona, as hangman from his rise to prominence in the mid-1940s to his portrayal in the biopic Pierrepoint (2005). It argues that Pierrepoint exercised agency in shaping this persona through publishing his autobiography and engagement with the media, although there were also representations that he did not influence. In particular, it explores three iterations of his cultural persona – the Professional Hangman, the Reformed Hangman and the Haunted Hangman. Each of these built on and reworked historical antecedents and also communicated wider understandings and contested meanings in relation to capital punishment. As a hangman who remained in the public eye after the death penalty in Britain was abolished, Pierrepoint was an important, authentic link to the practice of execution and a symbolic figure in debates over reintroduction. In the 21st century, he was portrayed as a victim of the ‘secondary trauma’ of the death penalty, which resonated with worldwide campaigns for abolition.
The damaging effects, for both the victims and perpetrators, of photographing sexual assault should be self-evident. However, in the cases of Rehtaeh Parsons, Jane Doe and Audrie Pott, photographs of sexual violence seem to have been taken and digitally disseminated without regard for the possible consequences. Thus, these cases pose disturbing questions about the ways that sexual violence is normalized and legitimized in western culture and the ways that new media is implicated in this process. These cases demonstrate how the ubiquity and permanence of digital photographs create new concerns for victims of sexual violence and new questions regarding the interpretive matrix of photographs. Using Judith Butler’s theory on photography, torture and framing, I argue that these cases are an example of what Butler refers to as the digitalization of evil. Through this framework, I will discuss the ways that new media exacerbates experiences of sexual violence and examine issues surrounding the interpretation of photographs of sexual violence.
In 2009 in Hobart, Australia, a 12-year-old ward of the state was advertised in a metropolitan newspaper as an 18-year-old prostitute. The decision to prosecute only one of the 100-plus men alleged to have paid her for sex made national headlines and gave rise to allegations of a conspiracy involving the highest levels of government and the judiciary. It also resulted in reform of the state’s laws relating to the ‘mistake as to age’ defence. This paper examines news coverage of the institutional responses to this criminal matter in order to theoretically understand the relationship between contemporary journalistic representations of crime and politicised controversy about social problems such as child sexual exploitation. Drawing on an analysis of problem framing in news coverage and interviews with journalists and their sources, it investigates how the news value of the story was identified and seeks to identify the point at which news coverage tipped beyond social usefulness towards public outrage and conspiracy.
This article explores the motivations, actions and experiences of real-life superheroes, those individuals who adopt a superhero persona inspired by both comic books and films, to engage in a range of activities that involve, amongst others, fighting crime, providing community support and battling injustice. Drawing on 13 in-depth interviews with individuals from different countries, as well as an ethnographic content analysis of online material, this innovative research explores the merging of the fictional and the real, the virtual and the terrestrial in the lives of interviewees. The article also enriches our understanding of the ‘carnival of crime’ and ‘edgework’ by arguing that risk, pleasure, excitement and transgression can also be found in a carnival of ‘doing good’ as well as in ‘wrongdoing’.
Penal history museums are among the sites where cultural meanings about prisoners and imprisonment are developed, communicated, and consumed. Little research has explored what visitors take from these encounters. Drawing on literature concerning new media communication and
Paul Nizan (1905–1940) is also known in France as the ‘impossible communist’, for his long-term allegiance to the Party and the abrupt cancellation of his membership, in the late 1930s, following the Nazi–Soviet pact. This paper discusses a number of his writings, focusing particularly on his best known novel, The Conspiracy, where a revolutionary cell plans illegal political action. Conflict, nihilism, suicide and betrayal are among the topics stemming from the novel, which will be examined from a criminological perspective. The analysis will primarily address ‘cultural’ aspects of crime and refer to notions such as ‘thrill’ and ‘seductions of crime’ among others. These notions, it will be argued, require some revision in the face of the imagined or actual criminality described in the novel.
This article explores the search for finality that arises in response to crime. Its focus is not simply upon how this search for finality functions, but on both the centrality of narrative within this and the question of consolation that arises when such cases officially remain unresolved. Examined by reference to one particular case – specifically, the deaths of five males in the South Australian city of Adelaide between 1979 and 1983 – the article explores the central role of cultural anxieties or phobias that often underpin infamous or iconic crimes. It examines the way in which the narrative of this case reveals particular anxieties associated with homosexuality and paedophilia as a means through which to investigate the complex way in which consolation is ultimately left wanting in spite of the presence of a narrative of culpability. In its entirety, the article attends to the enduring manner in which anxieties associated with sexual difference persist, and the haunting spectre that arises as a result of an unrealised search for finality.
Police and other investigative agencies face new challenges and opportunities with the growth of social media platforms. They can now access several categories of technologies that monitor social media and analyse their content. Social media monitoring is being trialled in a global context, and European Union member states in particular are contemplating the extent to which police should adapt to these investigative technologies. This exploratory research draws on a series of interviews to identify the grounds for establishment, set-up and on-going investment costs, and amount of staff required for social media monitoring. It also considers how technological affordances like automated data processing and interoperability are tempered by localised institutional and legal contexts.
The emergence of a post-industrial information economy shaped by and around networked communication technology has presented new opportunities for identity theft. In particular, the accidental leakage or deliberate harvesting of information, via either hacking or social engineering, is an omnipresent threat to a large number of commercial organisations and state agencies who manage digital databases and sociotechnical forms of data. Throughout the twenty-first century the global media have reported on a series of data breaches, fuelling anxiety among the public concerning the safety and security of their personal and financial data. With concern outpacing reliable information, a reassurance gap has emerged between the public’s expectations and the state’s ability to provide safety and security online. This disparity presents a significant opportunity for a commercial computer crime control industry that has sought to position itself as being able to offer consumer citizens the antidotes for such ills. This paper considers how neoliberal discourses of cybercrime control are packaged, branded and sold, through an examination of the social construction of the Heartbleed bug. It demonstrates how security company Codenomicon masterfully communicated the vulnerability, the product of a simple coding error, through its name, a logo and an accompanying website, in turn shaping news coverage across the mainstream media and beyond.
Prior research has examined public attitudes towards—and media portrayals of—Muslims in the United States following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Scholars, however, have yet to examine media portrayals of incarcerated Muslims in the era following the attacks. In this article, I analyze newspaper reports published before and after the 9/11 attacks to examine whether representations of incarcerated Muslims shifted following the attacks. Findings indicate that although terrorism and the war on terror, inmate radicalization, and the significance of Muslim chaplains are themes that emerged only in post-9/11 reports, there is also substantial overlap in the content of reports published before and after the attacks. These findings are interpreted by drawing on the minority threat perspective.
Long central to the exercise of sovereignty and symbolic power, border surveillance and policing are not only being amplified in the name of crime control and counter-terrorism, but exist as mass-mediated sources of fascination and entertainment. Interrogating Border Security: Australia’s Front Line as an example of the emergent genre of border-based reality television, this article examines the program’s cultural meanings and political functions. Through media spectacles that construct government authorities as heroic defenders protecting the nation from an array of external threats and fearful others, the program: legitimates state agendas; addresses anxieties associated with neoliberal globalization; and enrolls citizens as co-producers of national security. Accordingly, beyond representing, the program constitutes and prefigures the ‘reality’ of border enforcement, rendering it inevitable, necessary, and desirable.
The social construction of copycat crime exhibits a process in which a new criminological meme developed first as a media construct and subsequently as a criminological concept. How common the sequence where criminologists follow the media in the construction of crime and justice reality is unknown. The examination of the social construction of copycat crime suggested that the media create a new crime and justice construct through increased usage and modification of either newly minted or previously existing phrases that are disseminated as new crime and justice memes. In the case of copycat crime, media usage and public acceptance foreshadowed criminologists’ use of the phrase. A multi-step social construction process is hypothesized. A new construct becomes established and accepted in the public lexicon and popular media content; criminology researchers and practitioners note the increased public interest; renamed and reinvigorated research follows, and successful constructs become validated crime and justice phenomena. Employing the social construction history of copycat crime as a case study, this article details the social construction activities in the public and media spheres that created receptive environments for a unique new criminological construct to be developed. Traced from the inception of its component parts to its birth and adoption, the social construction of "copycat crime" demonstrates a useful methodology for the study of other crime and justice constructions and suggests that the relationship between criminology and the media regarding the social construction of crime and justice be further explored.
This paper critically engages with media representations of the use and users of methamphetamine, or ‘tik’, in South Africa. It makes two primary claims. First, the paper argues that the media has drawn on the themes of criminality, pathology and victimhood in articulating the ‘tik’ phenomenon. Second, it is argued that these themes intersect with much deeper discourses, discourses that are especially pertinent to the South African context – such as race, sex and HIV/AIDS – in order to make meaning. The resulting moral framework encourages punitive approaches to the regulation of ‘tik’, while undermining reductive or rehabilitation-orientated regulation strategies. This occurs despite punitive efforts having never been consistently effective in the country. Consequently, the paper argues that media constructions of ‘tik’ oversimplify a complex socio-political, economic and historically rooted phenomenon, frequently encouraging stigma and the exclusion of the ‘tik’ user from society. This not only prevents more effective measures being thought possible, but frequently also serves to exclude those who already live at the very margins of society.
This project focuses on how bullying victims are constructed as victims through a content analysis of news articles on Phoebe Prince and Tyler Clementi, two teens who committed suicide after being bullied. While the discourse that emerges from these cases appears to do similar symbolic work as hate crime laws that condemn harassment based on sexual orientation, on closer examination the discourses can also be read as upholding discriminatory systems of patriarchy and heteronormativity in their attempts to explain the suicides as an expected or predictable response to homophobia and sexism. Framing Prince and Clementi as victims of bullying, rather than victims of poor mental health or family discord, creates a narrative that reifies rather than challenges repressive and discriminatory notions of sexuality and gender.
This paper examines the interactional construction of written scam communications. It draws on an empirical corpus of 52 envelopes containing letters and leaflets designed to deceive recipients into parting with their money or personal details, and presents the analysis of eight extracts in illustrating the findings. This research draws on interactional methodologies to provide in-depth insights into the underlying techniques used in scams, and to identify a wider framework that accommodates and facilitates their effect. It explores and exposes what elements of the scammers’ communicative efforts are enlisted and directed towards the performance of particular acts such as inferring legitimacy and credibility, and inspiring urgency and secrecy. These elements combine to perform a range of highly effective communicative acts that, although the communication is mass-produced with no knowledge of the recipient other than a name and address, result in the exploitation of their individual vulnerability in a highly personalised manner.
This paper examines a case of trial by media revolving around a routine property crime in Hawaii. Trial by media is an emerging concept in crime media research; it illuminates how 21st-century mediascapes facilitate dynamic and interactive representations of crime, which may create spaces for alternative justice processes. Here we examine the impact of one victim’s efforts to identify a house burglar by sharing surveillance photos of the crime itself on the Internet, and the ensuing consequences. We chart how images of this relatively minor property crime circulated on the Internet through social media and eventually became a significant story for local corporate news. We also explore the consequences of this process, both in terms of restorative justice and surveillance research. Specifically, we document the way that social media presents opportunities outside of the criminal justice process for redress of grievances. We also, though, document how social media can create a forum for both racist and hate speech around criminals and those perceived to be criminal, and finally, we consider the ambiguous implications of using personal surveillance technologies as primary crime prevention strategies.
This paper reports on the outcome of an investigation into whether or not members of the public would recognise high-profile victims and perpetrators and, if so, whom. The study was based on the premise that prominent media coverage would cause a greater number of perpetrators to be recognised than victims and that those victims who were recognised would be white children. Field research was conducted in a university and in non-university settings, such as fast food outlets, bus stops and shopping centres. All 20 images used were black and white headshots. Most photographs showed one person, but two photographs had two images. A total of 103 people were surveyed. The majority of our sample (78%) were unable to name any victims or perpetrators. These results provide strong evidence to suggest that despite 24-hour rolling news and the prominence of high-profile victims and perpetrators on the front pages of national newspapers, the public fails to remember who these victims and perpetrators are. We discuss why this may be so.
Marlene Dumas is regarded as one of the most important international painters of this time. In this article, an analysis is made of what her painting The Kleptomaniac (2005) and, in particular, what its title represents. Drawing upon art history, I begin by looking at the original Portrait of a Kleptomaniac (ca. 1820) by Géricault of which Dumas has painted her own version. This will be followed by a discussion of the history of the concept of kleptomania in psychiatry and an analysis of how that concept is reproduced by Dumas’s painting. It will be argued that, by giving the portrait of a man the title of ‘kleptomaniac’ in 2005, Dumas represents a type of criminal in a way that neither does justice to the history of the concept of kleptomania, nor to the phenomenon itself. By mobilizing a contested and obsolete psychiatric concept as a title for a painting, the subject itself is mystified and the effect on the viewer of the painting is not only disorienting, but also ethically problematic.
In 2012 the Leveson Inquiry investigated relations between the police and the press, examining the routine systems and processes of police–press relations in the UK and, more specifically, the conduct of senior Metropolitan Police Service officers during an investigation into phone-hacking (Operation Caryatid). The Inquiry is notable in that it shone a light on a normally hidden policing function; it brought the backstage processes of police–media relations, part of police ‘image work’, to the frontstage area. This article considers the Leveson Inquiry and the data it collected as a case study of police impression management; it examines how the police sought to manage impressions about how they manage impressions. It takes a dramaturgical approach drawing on the work of Erving Goffman and Peter K Manning, combined with impression management concepts drawn from management and organisational studies. The article concludes that the identified impression management tactics used by different police ‘teams’ combined to protect the collective police image and to reinforce, for the present, the dominant position of the police in their relationship with the press.
The work of the incomparable Jock Young has had an enormous impact on the development of critical criminology and of criminology more generally. In this important volume I discuss the impact of his latter works (principally his trilogy) on the development of my own research in subfields that have become virtual industries in the global praxes of contemporary criminal (in)justice: gangs and deportation. I draw on my extensive experience with ethnographic fieldwork and the resulting analyses to show how major themes in Young’s work have been used to illuminate complex social processes and provide much-needed alternative theoretical frameworks with which to disentangle our data. I conclude that his radical oeuvre as well as his example of the socially engaged social scientist offer us a way out of the impasse we now face.
This article examines two phases of Jock Young’s work: first, in the 1980s when he was using quantitative criminological techniques in support of his Left Realist agenda; and second, in 2011 when he was offering an exuberant critique of quantitative methods. I consider these two separate and contrasting phases of his work from the viewpoint of someone whom Jock would have seen as an ‘administrative criminologist’ in the 1980s and more recently as a ‘datasaur’. I offer some counterarguments in support of quantitative methods, on the one hand, and in harnessing these methods to policy research, on the other. My criticisms of his impact are not intended to detract from the overall value of his work, which was immense.
Cultural criminology has provided a much needed energy and diversity within academic criminology. However, it has been criticised for its notion of ‘culture’, its tendency to romanticise deviance and for its lack of engagement with policy development. Realist criminology, on the other hand, has expressed a commitment to taking crime and victimisation seriously and to being policy relevant. The question that this paper addresses is whether these two strands of criminology can be combined to produce an approach that is both critical and useful. This was a question that Jock Young raised in his later writings.
Operating in the politically contentious and ideologically polarised domain of criminal justice presents substantial challenges for the penal reform network. Those pursuing ‘public conversations’ must develop strong rhetoric to make their causes salient and of interest to both the public and policymakers. The fact that penal reform is widely considered by journalists as having minimal readership appeal is indicative of the main issue campaigners face. Those seeking to influence policy reform for women are faced with a further barrier, in that social attitudes to male and female offenders differ. What language best, then, for campaigners seeking to influence government policy for women within this climate? Situated within the constructionist paradigm for social problems research, this article seeks to understand the different approaches and strategies – the ‘messaging structures’ or ‘frames’ – used by campaigners to influence politicians, the media and the public. Based on empirical data gathered from interviews with over thirty elite ‘network’ actors, it will also discuss journalists’ attitudes towards penal reform and their opinions on women in crime news.
This essay explores the affective impact of contemporary real crime documentaries through an examination of Kurt Kuenne’s 2008 documentary Dear Zachary: a letter to a son about his father. In its dramatic use of home video footage in the context of crime reconstruction, Dear Zachary exemplifies the contemporary crime documentary and its mediated re-enactment of the past. Looking at the deployment of real crime images across different platforms, the author analyses how the crime documentary circulates as a cultural object, and explores how the emotional and affective attachments it solicits from viewers foregrounds the new contexts in which questions about judgement and the law, crime and ethics are being formed. Exploring its online reception on websites such as IMDB.com and Amazon, the essay considers how Dear Zachary calls upon the affective labour of spectators to reaffirm dominant social values regarding crime, victimhood and the family. Tracing the affectivity of the crime image as it is routed through the remediated home video footage in Dear Zachary and then, through the ‘extras’ on the DVD format, the essay suggests that the vehemence of the emotional response to Dear Zachary is ultimately not only about the horrible crimes it reveals but about the anxieties it raises regarding what is at stake in the public circulation of ‘private’ family images.
This paper suggests that Shakespeare’s plays offer an embryonic version of criminology, and that they remain a valuable resource for the field, both a theoretical and a pedagogical resource. On the one hand, for criminology scholars, Shakespeare can open up new avenues of theoretical consideration, for the criminal events depicted in his plays reflect complex philosophical debates about crime and justice, making interpretations of those events inherently theoretical; reading a passage from Shakespeare can be the first step in building a new theory of criminology. On the other hand, for criminology students, Shakespeare can initiate and sustain an intellectual transition that is fundamental to their professionalization, namely the transition from what I call a "simplistic" to a "skeptical" model of criminology. For this reason, I recommend that criminologists try what the Shakespearean scholar Julia Reinhard Lupton has called "thinking with Shakespeare." Thinking with Shakespeare is particularly valuable for criminologists because Shakespeare coded ancient philosophical ideas about crime and justice into the words and deeds of his characters: interpreting the drama takes us into the philosophy, and the philosophy provides us with the conceptual equipment for a better criminology.
This paper considers how the politics of security and order are also a politics of aesthetics encompassing practical struggles over the authority and regulation of ways of looking and knowing. To do this, the paper considers the visual economies of police power in the United States by engaging what has been called the "war on cameras", or the police crackdown on citizen photographers who "shoot back" or "stare down" police. Despite US law generally endorsing the right for citizens to film or photograph on-duty public police officers, in recent years hundreds of cases have been documented where police have confiscated or smashed cameras, deleted film, or intimidated and threatened those wielding an unauthorized camera. For us, this crackdown on the unauthorized stare is a theoretically and politically insightful case study—a diagnostic moment—for engaging more openly and starkly the assumptions underpinning police power more generally, particularly the ways police power aims to actively fabricate social order by eradicating anything it deems a threat in the name of security. Ultimately, we argue that the violence holstered, literally and figuratively, on the hip of modern policing is inseparable from an attendant politics of staring and visuality that further extends and perpetuates state power’s aim of pacification.
This article examines how mephedrone, the most popular legal high sold freely in the United Kingdom until its classification as a high-risk drug, in April 2010, was constructed by the British popular media as a moral epidemic that threatened the very symbolic heart of the nation – its youth. News of teenagers committing suicide after taking the drug or dying of overdose had been presented in the pages of tabloid dailies for months when the government decided to ban the substance despite the lack of solid scientific data on the medical and social risks it posed. Drawing on Teun van Dijk’s socio-cognitive approach to critical discourse studies, this article demonstrates how in its attempt to influence national policy the media largely responded to the new drug problem with panic discourses that perpetuated the old ‘war on drugs’ ideology, choosing to frame mephedrone as an agent of death and moral downfall even when its destructive influence was questionable. In this perspective, a blueprint made of multiple layers of historical drug scares and repressive drug policies shaped the metaphors and narratives used by the media to codify a sense of threat and by the audiences to interpret the symptoms of a social pathology.
The emergence of a systematic campaign of horrific violence directed at women and girls in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez has become a focus of intense media and activist attention over the last two decades. While the mainstream media devoted much attention to ravaged bodies and sensational theories, state officials reacted to the crimes with a victim-blaming narrative that, activists have argued, provided a lethal accelerant to the violence. This paper explores the role of documentary film in the investigation and politicization of the murders and disappearances of women in Juarez. Along with activists and journalists, critical documentary filmmakers have been among the primary investigators of the crimes. In this paper, I argue that these grassroots media practices have been instrumental in opening spaces of communication that have been enclosed by pervasive fear and systemic insecurity. I pay specific attention to the ways in which Lourdes Portillo’s 2001 documentary Señorita Extraviada interrogates the crimes politically. Through its critical, engaged approach to the aesthetics and politics of evidence, I argue, the film poses a counter-narrative to the neoliberal state’s discourse of responsibilization and individualization in a context of systemic insecurity.
This qualitative content analysis project relies on a combined cultural criminological and hegemonic masculinities perspective to uncover constructions of justice workers and the gendered performance of policing. This study provides a typology of hegemonic and "complicit" or subordinate policing and masculinity models in six of the highest-grossing American police movies as well as the representations of the ideal and unqualified officer in the online recruitment materials of departments serving the 25 largest American cities. While "cop films" are an established subgenre within Hollywood, official police websites represent an emergent medium for the dissemination of a cultural self-portrait. By studying these various reflections of the occupation, this project engages with the characteristics, traits, and attributes associated with the police across Hollywood movies and police recruitment webpages, finding stark tensions between the commercially mediated ideal and that of the public transcript of the police. This study theoretically and methodologically develops cultural criminology by addressing the self-portrait of the police alongside models of masculinity and policing provided by consumer-tailored media within the modern "hall of mirrors."
This paper is concerned with the impact of online technologies on public representations of sexual violence. Drawing on Habermas’s theories of the public sphere and Fraser’s associated critiques, it argues that the Internet has become host to ‘counter-publics’ in which allegations of sexual violence are being received, discussed and acted upon in ways contrary to established social and legal norms. The potentialities of online technology (and social media in particular) to foster and disseminate counter-hegemonic discourses are examined through three case studies in which girls and women have used various online platforms to make extrajudicial allegations of sexual violence and abuse. Where alleged perpetrators of sexual violence are publicly named, it has been argued that such action represents an invasion of their privacy and a subversion of their right to the presumption of innocence and a fair trial. In online contexts such allegations can be received and understood very differently, and these understandings are then circulated in ways that can directly influence ‘old media’ coverage and court outcomes. However, as the paper notes, the principles upon which online counter-publics operate are not radically discontinuous with those of the hegemonic public sphere and not all girls and women have equal access to the support of online networks and activists.
This paper is concerned to map the phenomenon of filicide-suicide as it has been reported in academic research and the newspapers. It is focused on the findings of an exploratory investigation of newspaper reporting on these events in Britain and Eire between 1991 and 2011 and is concerned to address the potential relationship between this reporting behaviour and wider public understanding of these events. In so doing the paper falls into three parts. The first part presents an analysis of what is known about filicide-suicide: the academic narrative. The second part presents the findings of the empirical investigation referred to above: the media narrative. The third part explores the possible interconnection between these two narratives and the policy and professional context of responding to child abuse in the United Kingdom: the policy narrative. In the light of this analysis the paper considers what can be done about such family tragedies and the way in which we witness and make sense of them.
Within the last two decades, "green criminology" has emerged as a distinctive area of study, drawing together criminologists with a wide range of specific research interests and representing varying theoretical orientations. "Green criminology" spans the micro to the macro, from work on individual-level environmental crimes to business/corporate violations to state transgressions, and includes research conducted from both mainstream and critical theoretical perspectives, as well as arising out of interdisciplinary projects. With few exceptions, there has been little work attempting to explicitly or implicitly integrate cultural criminology with green criminology and vice versa. This article promulgates a green-cultural criminology—an approach that seeks to incorporate a concern with the cultural significance of the environment, environmental crime, and environmental harm into the green criminological enterprise. It begins by demonstrating how cultural criminology is, at some levels, already doing green criminology. It then attempts to map a green criminology onto several key dimensions of cultural criminology: (a) the contestation of space, transgression, and resistance; (b) the way(s) in which crime is constructed and represented by the media; and (c) patterns of constructed consumerism. This article concludes by showing how a green-criminology-cultural-criminology cross-fertilization would be mutually beneficial.
This article analyzes media representation of minority offenders, and argues that media practice associates a minority status with criminal propensity through a process of minority signification. The focal point of the analysis is newspaper reporting of the 2003 Fukuoka family murder in Japan, in which three students from China killed a Japanese family. Close examination of two major Japanese newspapers suggests that their reporting of the Fukuoka case connects crime and a minority group in two ways. First, the newspapers frequently utilize nationality and immigration status as descriptors of the Fukuoka case suspects, and thus encourage an intuitive mental connection between foreignness and crime. Furthermore, opinion pieces and editorial articles interpret the murder in the context of immigration policies and the financial hardship often experienced by international students, suggesting that the Fukuoka case is one manifestation of international student criminality. The article concludes that signification of nationality and immigration status in the media may help explain the disparity between the relatively minor presence of foreign national offenders in Japan’s crime scene and their major presence in the Japanese crime discourse.
In 1999, three people were found dead on a farm in the Norwegian countryside. Two pensioners and their middle-aged daughter were victims of a brutal murder that in the coming three years filled the Norwegian news media. Four people, two women and two men, were charged and convicted of the crime. The perpetrators were the son of the murdered pensioners, his wife, her sister and her sister’s boyfriend. As is the case in many countries, women are rarely involved in planned and brutal homicide for gain in Norway, and this makes it interesting to investigate how such cases and female defendants are represented. This article investigates how cultural assumptions about gender and class influenced how the case and the four defendants were represented in media and court, and concludes that the two women were constructed as opposites in a variety of ways, a finding in line with studies elsewhere on female offenders. Differently from much of the research literature, the male perpetrators were not represented as the brains and muscle of the crime, but rather as dominated by two women who in ways related to class were described as dangerous femme fatales.
Consumerism, industrial development and regulatory liberalisation have underpinned the ascendance of gambling to a mainstream consumption practice. In particular, the online gambling environment has been marketed as a site of ‘safe risks’ where citizens can engage in a multitude of different forms of aleatory consumption. This paper offers a virtual ethnography of an online ‘advantage play’ subculture. It demonstrates how advantage players have reinterpreted the online gambling landscape as an environment saturated with crime and victimisation. In this virtual world, advantage play is no longer simply an instrumental act concerned with profit accumulation to finance consumer desires. Rather, it acts as an opportunity for individuals to engage in a unique form of edgework, whereby the threat to one’s well-being is tested through an ability to avoid crime and victimisation. This paper demonstrates how mediated environments may act as sites for edgeworking and how the potential for victimisation can be something that is actively engaged with.