Cultural Criminology Part 1
1. Brief recap
2. What is cultural criminology?
3. What is subcultural criminology?
4. Examples of subcultural criminology
• Functionalist approach
• Conflict theory
Cultural criminology is concerned with the production and exchange of meanings between
different members of a society or a social group
Criminology no longer insulated from academic trends (e.g. postmodern theory)
Cultural criminology as critical theory
What is cultural criminology?
Recent development –still in a phase of development so there are new directions.
Subcultural criminology—entails arejection of positivist and administravie
criminology. Focuses on real life subcultural participants asd how they use media
images to form their own subculrutal lifestyle and group identity Criminological aesthetics—does not entail this rejection of mainstream crim.
Examines repreentations of crime and crminalty in the media and not how those
media images are used.
BOTH examine an Intersection of crime, media and culture—Hayward and young note
theres a general attempt to make sense ofa world in which the screen scripts the screen
and the script screens the street—when we look at peple on the street those lifestyles
make it onto our small and big screens. And those people watch our screens to figure
out how they should form their lifesdtyles and identities.
It entails ‘the placing of crime and its control in the context of culture’ (Hayward and
Young, 1) –crime and control are cultural products and are social and cultural
constructions. And as constructions they need to be understood in terms of the
meanings they carry.
Theoretical Roots and Antecedents of Subcultural Criminology
1. Cultural deviance theory— approach that examines show members of a criminal
subcultural develop shared motives, attitudes, and rationalizations for their subcultural
behaviour. Example of a social structure theory: youths growing up in a lower class
environment would develop a set of shared norms that were contrary to the norms of
middle class society.
2. Labelling theory: Becker and Cohen— becker—crminilogist should consider how moral
entrepreusrs make the rules and deviant labels that end up being differently imposed on
different groups. Cohen— moral panic describes a disproportionate societal reaction to
particular folk devils and this reaction is created and informed by media coverage and it
serves to label certain groups as folk devils. How media images are used as a symbolic
interaction in which deviant identity is communicate to other members of that subculture
as well as to the general public.
3. Postmodern sensibility: semiotics—there is no linear causal sequence that affects how
the media might affect the lifestyle choices of subcultural members. Interested in how
meaning is generated( semiotics) and this is important to study bc the meaning of crime
and criminality is always contested—there is no agreement on the meaning of crime and
criminality between the media, politicians, criminals, and pop culture. And how the
meaning of subculture is socially constructed.
4. Clifford Geertz’s conceptualization of culture
Culture as web of significance that gives our life and our behaviours meaning—
this web is spun by humans of a particular society. Ensemble of stories we tell ourselves about ourselves narratives –culture is a
story that we tell ourselves about ourselves. So we find meaning in stories and
generate meaning through storytelling
Focus on deviant youth subcultures: lifestyle choices
E.g. The ‘chav’ –construction of a deviant youthful lifestyle in the U.K. a young
person without a high level of education, often unemployed. They have also been
as a gang and subculture associated with antisocial behaviour. How do you know
they are chavs? Bc of their clothing and their lifestyle choices. They engage
crime to relieve their boredom, not bc of instrumental reasons. The hoodie hides
their identification particularly from surveillance cameras. To society, the chavs
are menaces, and associated with lawlessness, and portrays them as folk devils.
Examples of Subcultural Criminology
Research that uses qualitative methods
A.Subcultural Criminology as Manifesto
• Stakes out terrain and specifies terms of engagement
• Positions itself in contrast to administrative criminology
Administrative criminology—branch Subcultural criminology
in crim that sought to inform the
management and control of crime and
criminals through policy-oriented
research. Sensitive to cj trends and
trends in policies.
Rationality (rational choice theory), Irrationality, interpretation, and
positivism, and instrumental crime— expressive crime (emotions)
rationality and positivism re-emerged in
the 1980s’. people weighing the costs
and benefits, and this explains
Quantitative methodology—in Qualitative methodology—taps into the
discovering scientific facts. emotions of people –expressive crimes are crimes of passion that are designed
to vent your emotions.
Focus on community of victims and fear Focus on transgressive subject and
—focus on fear of crime. seductive pleasure of committing crime
—focus on pleasure of crime.
Centre Margins— interested in studying
members in society who are
marginalizations bc of their transgressing
or social inequalities. Also interested in
the margins bc the see their own work as
marginal within the overall body of
View from on high—from a birds eye View from ground level—or from the
view street view. Acknowledges that these