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An International Journal

v 11 #1: Table of Contents and Abstracts

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Critical Criminology is the official journal of the American Society of Criminology’s Division on Critical Criminology. 

PLEASE NOTE: Paul Leighton's term as editor has ended. The Journal remains active, but these pages will not be updated beyond what occurred during Paul's editorship. Please check the journal's official homepage at Springer (formerly Kluwer) for current information. 

The full text of all articles is available via Critical Criminology's official homepage at Springer (click on the volume/issue, then the article, and login or purchase access)

Working For Criminalization Of Economic Offending: Contradictions For Critical Criminology?

Anne Alvesalo and Steve Tombs

While economic crime and its ’control’ deserve the scrutiny of critical criminology, there are problems in being a critical economic crime criminologist. The conclusion that criminal law in this area be strictly and consistently enforced seems inconsistent with critical criminology’s warnings regarding the dangers of criminalization as a response to social problems. This article reports upon this dilemma in the specific context of research on a recent Finnish initiative to combat economic crime that resulted in the authors intervening in policy-debates to argue for even greater criminalization of such crime. The article describes and reflects upon this pro-criminalization strategy. It provides an overview of the research project and some of the dangers associated with the advocacy of greater criminalization that emerged from it, and which are raised more generally by critical criminologists. It concludes justifying why, in the particular context within which this project was conducted, the approach adopted towards conducting the research, disseminating findings and advocating criminalization. [Access full text via SpringerLink]

For background, read Regulating Business: the Emergence of an Economic Crime Control Programme in Finland by Anne Alvesalo and Steve Tombs (Full text available free online. Papers from the British Society of Criminology Conference, July 2000)

See also Paul Leighton & Jeffrey Reiman, A Tale of Two Criminals: We're tougher on Corporate Criminals, But They Still Don't get What They Deserve

Racial Composition Of Television Offenders And Viewers’ Fear Of Crime

Sarah Eschholz

Scholars, politicians, criminal justice professionals and member of the general public frequently link the media to the United States crime problem. Although many scholars have noted the televised construction of young black males as the stereotypical criminal, no study has ever measured how the race-specific content of media messages may be related to viewers’ perceptions and fears relating to crime This paper breaks with past research that analyzes fear of crime by program genre, and instead explores the impact of the racial composition of television offenders on viewers’ fear of crime. The data include a content analysis of twenty-six crime-related programs and a telephone survey of 1492 adults to explore the relationship between television viewing and fear of crime. For African Americans there is a correlation between time spent viewing television and fear of crime. For Whites, the relative frequency of African American offenders in the television programs is more important for predicting fear of crime than the amount of television they watch. [Access full text via SpringerLink]

A Struggle to Inquire Without Becoming an Un-Critical Non-Criminologist

Hal Pepinsky

This essay explores effects that getting to know those involved in child custody struggles over allegations of sexual abuse, and survivors of ritual abuse and mind control, have had on the development of my own theory of how to make peace in the face of violence on the one hand, and on how I am received professionally on the other. This paper provides background of how I came to be involved with these survivors and why I am considered deviant for listening to them while other criminologists focus on generating ‘knowledge’ based on people they hardly know. The conclusion of the paper reflects on some important insights for peacemaking criminology gained from the extraordinary survivors who build trusting, trustworthy lives with partners and friends, who offer lessons on what it takes to move away from sadism toward compassion—to transform a culture into more community and less violence. [Access full text via SpringerLink]

For more information, see Hal's book, A CRIMINOLOGIST’S QUEST FOR PEACE, which is freely available on the web through

Advances In Critical Cultural Criminology: An Analysis Of Reactions To Avant-Garde Flag Art

Michael Welch, John Sassi, Allyson McDonough

As a popular motif in American art, images of the U.S. flag remind citizens of the importance of culture in promoting patriotism. Still, the prevailing aesthetic commands a dignified representation of the Stars and Stripes, shunning political criticism and disrespect for the nation's most cherished emblem. Amid the controversy over flag burning in 1989, artist Dread Scott unveiled his work What is the Proper Way to Display the U.S. Flag? at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In that piece, Old Glory was placed on the floor of the gallery, inciting enormous public outrage. As a form of interactive art, Scott invited visitors to record their thoughts about the flag in a ledger book furnished at the exhibit. More than 1,600 messages were transcribed in the ledger book, thus becoming an intriguing source of unobtrusive data. This research sets out to explore societal reaction to Scott's artwork by administering a content analysis of the entries contained in the ledger book. While interpreting prominent themes framing the conflict over flag desecration, this work contributes to a critical cultural criminology. In particular, the analysis brings to the forefront the significance of power, hierarchies, and social inequality driving criminalization campaigns aimed at controlling avant-garde flag art and political dissent. [Access full text via SpringerLink]

see also, Michael Welch, Flag Burning: Moral Panic and the Criminalization of Protest (Social Problems and Social Issues). This book is reviewed in v 11 #2 of Critical Criminology

Review of Speaking the Unspeakable: Marital Violence among South Asian Immigrants in the United States by Margaret Abraham

Reviewed by Joanne Belknap

This book provides an important and necessary contribution to the current understanding of intimate partner violence. The primary contributions are understanding (1) the importance of immigrant status as a risk factor in domestic violence; (2) how both informal and formal responses to domestic violence are related to immigrant status; (3) how immigrant status is related to resistance factors for battered women; (4) how immigrant status, gender, race, and class intersect; and (5) the development and struggles of advocacy groups for battered women within South Asian communities in the U.S.

Margaret Abraham points out that much of the research on battered women focuses on white women, or simply fails to address racial or ethnic differences. Speaking the Unspeakable is convincing in its portrayal of the unique risks South Asian battered women in the U.S. face. Through frequent excerpts from the intensive interviews with 25 South Asian women (from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, and Nepal), they become very real to the reader. She is correct in arguing that qualitative interviews are necessary for understanding these women’s unique plight, allowing them their own voices to describe their situations. Although much of the domestic violence they experience is similar to what is described in the existing research on battered women who are not South Asian immigrants, the book is at its most powerful in helping the reader understand the vulnerability of a woman in the U.S. whose national origin, and possibly language and citizenship barriers, place her at additional risk of domestic violence. Furthermore, these factors limit her abilities to escape from these relationships. [Access full text via SpringerLink]

Review of American Youth Violence by Franklin E. Zimring 

Reviewed by:  Deborah Chester

Underlying Zimring’s argument is the assumption that America’s fear of youth violence is irrational and unsupported.  According to the author, what is most problematic are the legal principles that have developed to deal with this misrepresented group of youth, particularly in response to the surge in juvenile violent crime in the early 1990s. Projections of continued increases of youth violence and the perception of the emergence of a more dangerous breed of juvenile offenders are fueling ever more punitive youth policies. The aim of the book is to provide an empirically-based and associated balanced examination of youth violence in the United States. 

This book consists of ten chapters separated into three parts. Part I includes an empirical examination of youth violence in the 1990s. Part II is devoted to examining the complexities, and, oftentimes contradictions, surrounding legal principles and policy options available in response to youths’ violent acts. In the last section, Zimring provides a discussion of youth violence and the future of the juvenile court, and argues that the fear of youth violence has created a more punitive, less protective juvenile court for all accused delinquents. The book concludes with a chapter on youth violence and policy. The author’s argument is that rather than being the center of attention, youth violence should play a minor role in government policy. This book should be of interest to policy makers, elected officials, researchers, and students. It could be used as text for a number of upper level or graduate criminology and criminal justice courses focusing on delinquency, violent behavior, and policy. [Access full text via SpringerLink]

Review of Engendering Resistance: Agency and Power in Women's Prisons, by Mary Bosworth 

Reviewed by Barbara Hudson

Studies of imprisonment are all too often detached from theoretical debates and perspectives which are current in other fields of sociology of punishment and control. While there are, of course, important exceptions to this generalisation, there is every reason to welcome a new, albeit small, body of sociological studies on prisons, that brings insights of the newer theories of gender, identity and power, to bear on the study of regimes and inmates. Bosworth's study is a significant addition to this body of work.

Bosworth explores the world of the women's prison through two sets of related concepts: identity and resistance; agency and power. She talks to women inmates about their experiences of and feelings about various aspects of prison life - relations between prisoners and officers; relationships among prisoners; education and work; discipline; self-harm and medical issues - and shows how clashing and contested ideas of womanhood become sites for struggles of powerlessness and empowerment, resistance and suppression, identity and anonymity. She gives vivid examples of the ways in which 'womanhood' can be both means of oppression and means of resistance in prisons. For example, stereotypes of womanhood deny female prisoners opportunities to learn the trades that might help them gain employment outside, but at other times (such as the example she gives of using 'feminine problems' to have harsh toilet paper replaced by soft), women use their female biology to embarrass a male governor into giving them what they want; conventional ideas of ‘the good mother’ give them little choice in the ways they try to relate to their children, but provides a source of identity more powerful than that of ‘prisoner’ or ‘offender’.

The book explores the ways in which identities and allegiances are mediated by class and race as well as gender, detailing the different experiences and difficulties of prisoners living abroad; the different reactions of officials to demands for religious observance for women of differing race and class backgrounds; the ways in which coming from the same neighbourhood makes for stronger bonds than being of the same ethnic group. Although she discusses sexuality, its implications for female identity and agency are not as fully developed as are the other structural factors of race and class.

Empirical detail is joined to a substantial and illuminating discussion of the debates around the theory and politics of identity and resistance.   These ideas are prominent in much of the most influential contemporary feminist work in social theory, and are seen as crucial to maintaining focus on gendered oppression whilst taking note of the post-structuralist and post-modernist critiques of unitary concepts of 'woman' and 'power'.   To date, these ideas in their theoretically articulated forms have had little impact on criminology. That the book not only presents them and their critiques in accessible, comprehensible terms but puts them to work to such good effect means that it is already prominent on my reading lists, and deserves to be read by students and academics who are interested in any aspects of punishment and control, not just women's imprisonment. Bosworth also gives a comprehensive and principled discussion of feminist research methodology and the value of the 'standpoint' methodology she uses, which again, makes the book valuable beyond its immediate topic. [Access full text via SpringerLink]

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