Cultural Criminology Essays

Maguire, Morgan & Reiner: The Oxford Handbook of Criminology 5e

Chapter 4

Many of the ideas and themes covered in this chapter are explored in greater detail in Cultural Criminology: an Invitation (Ferrell et al. 2008, a second edition is in development). Aimed at undergraduate students, and replete with numerous examples and illustrations-even a filmography-this is the most accessible and comprehensive introduction to the field to date, and provides an excellent starting point for future research. Another useful overview is Ferrell and Hayward's Cultural Criminology: Theories of Crime (2011, Farnham: Ashgate); a collection that consolidates classic precursor works with key examples of contemporary cultural criminology. An alternative starting point is the annotated bibliography of around 100 cultural criminology references in the 2012 Oxford Bibliographies Online.

A number of edited compilations exist. The first collection of essays entitled Cultural Criminology was compiled by Ferrell and Sanders in 1995. In this work (and in subsequent early review articles such as Ferrell 1999), we see cultural criminology in its original US manifestation, i.e. tending to focus on illicit subcultures, labelling theory, and various criminalized forms of music and style. A more recent 24-chapter collection that focuses on crime and culture across a variety of local, regional, and national settings is Ferrell et al.'s (2004) Cultural Criminology Unleashed. Although more suitable for postgraduate students, the 2004 Special Edition of the international journal Theoretical Criminology (Vol. 8 No. 3) is also of interest.

If early cultural criminology was preoccupied with meaning, subculture, and media representation, more recent work has sought to add a more materialist dimension. See for example Hayward's City Limits: Crime, Consumer Culture and the Urban Experience (2004) on the relationship between consumerism and expressive criminality; Young's (2003) article 'Merton with energy, Katz with structure: the sociology of vindictiveness and the criminology of transgression', which attempts to ground transgression in a structural context; Presdee's Cultural Criminology and the Carnival of Crime (2000) on the commodification of crime and punishment; Hayward and Yar's (2006) work on 'Chavs' and how consumerism is now a locus around which exclusion is configured and the excluded identified and surveyed; and the intentionally polemical dialogic exchange about crime, culture, and capitalism between Jeff Ferrell and Steve Hall and Simon Winlow in the journal Crime, Media, Culture (Vol. 3 No. 1).

See also Morrison (2006), Hamm (2007), and Hayward (2011) for examples of an emerging cultural criminology of the state.

A primary feature of cultural criminology is its interest in the emotions and existential realities associated with the commission of much crime. The foundational work in this reconstruction of experiential aetiology is Jack Katz's The Seductions of Crime (1988); a text that serves as a touchstone for subsequent cultural criminological analyses on crime and emotionality such as O'Malley and Mugford (1994), Morrison (1995: ch. 15), and Fenwick and Hayward (2000). The dialectic between excitement and control is also a major interest of cultural criminology; as evidenced by Stephen Lyng's seminal concept of 'Edgework' (1990, 2005; see also Rajah 2007), and Hayward's critique of rational choice theories of crime (2007, 2012).

For student-friendly introductions to cultural criminology's interest in the way crime is woven into the fabric of everyday life, see the chapters by Ferrell (2009), Presdee (2009), and Ferrell and lan (2003) in the second and third editions of the Oxford University Press textbook Criminology (edited by C. Hale et al.). For book-length (ethnographic) examples of how cultural criminologists attempt to communicate the criminological, political, gendered, and theoretical importance of the everyday, see Dunier (1999), Ferrell (2006), Miller (2008), and Garot (2010).

For examples of cultural criminological research on crime and the media see Framing Crime: Cultural Criminology and the Image (Hayward and Presdee 2010); Frankie Bailey and Donna Hale's (1998) book Popular Culture, Crime and Justice; Alison Young's The Scene of Violence (2009); Chris Greer's Crime News (2012), and the international journal Crime, Media, Culture (London: Sage), a periodical dedicated to exploring the relationships between crime, criminal justice, and the media.

Finally, in terms of research methodology, see Young's The Criminological Imagination (2011) and chapter 6 ('Dangerous Knowledge') of Cultural Criminology: an Invitation for covering statements. On the ethnographic aspect of cultural criminology, see Ferrell and Hamm's Ethnography at the Edge (1998); Ferrell's (1997) account of criminological verstehen; and Stephanie Kane's article, 'The unconventional methods in cultural criminology', in the aforementioned Special Edition of Theoretical Criminology.

For further examples of cultural criminological research, readers are advised to explore the references listed in the present chapter. Finally, to access a number of key papers and to keep up to date with news about conferences and publications in the area of cultural criminology log on to

Since cultural criminology’s inception in the mid-1990s, a number of books, chapters, and articles have offered overviews of cultural criminology and its general application to the study of crime. The first collection of essays gathered under the rubric “cultural criminology” was the edited collection Ferrell and Sanders 1995. In this work (and in subsequent early review articles, such as Ferrell 1999), cultural criminology is revealed in its original US manifestation, tending to focus on image, meaning, and representation in the interplay of crime and crime control, especially in relation to the stylized frameworks and experiential dynamics of illicit subcultures, the symbolic criminalization of popular cultural forms, and the mediated construction of crime and crime control issues. As the project gathered momentum in the United Kingdom (see Hayward and Young 2004) and Europe (see Bovenkerk, et al. 2009) at the start of the 21st century, a more rounded form of cultural criminology emerged. This more international and interdisciplinary form of cultural criminology includes explicit attempts to graft a more materialist skin onto cultural criminology’s theoretical body, as evidenced in Presdee 2000; Ferrell, et al. 2004; and Hayward and Young 2012. More recently, because of the sustained growth of cultural criminology courses at both the undergraduate and the postgraduate levels, cultural criminology is now in a position to produce bespoke textbooks and readers. Hence works like Ferrell, et al. 2008 and Ferrell and Hayward 2011 provide excellent jumping off points for students to explore the interface of crime and culture through the lens of cultural criminology.

  • Bovenkerk, Frank, Dina Siegel, and Frank van Gemert, eds. 2009. Culturele criminologie. The Hague: Boom.

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    First collection of cultural criminology essays in Dutch.

  • Ferrell, Jeff. 1999. Cultural criminology. Annual Review of Sociology 25.1: 395–418.

    DOI: 10.1146/annurev.soc.25.1.395E-mail Citation »

    A lengthy journal article that develops some of the putative ideas set out in Ferrell and Sanders 1995. As in that text, the emphasis here is very much on subcultural and media analyses of crime. The author also provides a useful introduction to some of the early core research methods employed by cultural criminologists.

  • Ferrell, Jeff, Keith Hayward, and Jock Young. 2008. Cultural criminology: An invitation. Los Angeles: SAGE.

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    Aimed at undergraduate students, this is the most accessible and comprehensive introduction to the field of cultural criminology to date. Engaging, clearly written, and replete with numerous examples and illustrations—even a filmography—this text serves as an excellent starting point for future investigations in the field.

  • Ferrell, Jeff, and Keith Hayward, eds. 2011. Cultural criminology: Theories of crime. Library of Essays in Theoretical Criminology. Farnham, UK: Ashgate.

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    This volume of twenty-two previously published works consolidates classic precursor works with key examples of contemporary cultural criminology. A one-stop shop for undergraduates and postgraduates alike that also includes a useful introductory essay by the editors.

  • Ferrell, Jeff, Keith Hayward, Wayne Morrison, and Mike Presdee, eds. 2004. Cultural criminology unleashed. London: GlassHouse.

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    A useful edited collection of twenty-four essays on cultural criminology that includes research into crime and culture across a variety of local, regional, and national settings.

  • Ferrell, Jeff, and Clinton Sanders, eds. 1995. Cultural criminology. Boston: Northeastern Univ. Press.

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    An early edited collection of thirteen essays on crime and culture that includes key chapters on criminal subcultures, media representations of crime, and various criminalized forms of music and style. This book represents the classic early North American formulation of cultural criminology.

  • Hayward, Keith, and Jock Young. 2012. Cultural criminology. In The Oxford handbook of criminology. 5th ed. Edited by Michael Maguire, Rod Morgan, and Robert Reiner. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    This concise chapter by two of the leading figures in the field offers a good synopsis of cultural criminology suitable for both undergraduate and postgraduate students. See also the earlier version of this chapter in the fourth edition, which is useful for comparing cultural criminology’s evolution as a distinct criminological paradigm.

  • Hayward, Keith, and Jock Young, eds. 2004. Special issue: Cultural criminology. Theoretical Criminology 8.3.

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    Special issue of the international journal Theoretical Criminology on cultural criminology containing eight articles by leading international figures in the field. More suitable for postgraduate students, although the editors’ introductory essay provides a useful shorthand foreword to cultural criminology.

  • Presdee, Mike. 2000. Cultural criminology and the carnival of crime. London: Routledge.

    DOI: 10.4324/9780203299142E-mail Citation »

    This monograph did much to promote cultural criminology in the United Kingdom. It also began to add class concerns to the mix by consciously drawing on British cultural studies, in particular, the work of the Birmingham school. Presdee’s short and engaging text was further influential in its application of M. M. Bakhtin’s work on “carnival” to youth crime (see Emotion, “Edgework,” Experience).

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