CrimNet Reading Group

 The CrimNet Reading Group meets regularly at the University of York to read, discuss and critique current research on crime and criminal justice. Our reading group is jointly led by two PhD students from the University of York's department of Sociology. To find out more about the CrimNet reading group please view our upcoming events and join our mailing list. If you would like to know more about the texts previously discussed at the reading group please see below.

July 2017

In July 2017 the CrimNet Reading Group discussed the 2016 1997 article 'Criminological verstehen: Inside the immediacy of crime' by Jeff Ferrell (Northern Arizona University).

Abstract: Many past and present studies in criminology have developed out of engaged and often illegal field research—that is, field research in which the researcher of necessity crosses over into the world of criminality. Contemporary reevaluations of methodology, and specifically the role of the researcher in the research process, provide a framework for exploring anew the implications of such field research. In addition, a variety of contemporary criminological studies highlight the importance of the meanings and emotions that emerge inside criminal events, and thus confirm the need for methodologies that can situate researchers to some degree inside illegality. Drawing on Weber's notion of verstehen, this essay proposes one such situated methodology: criminological verstehen. It concludes by suggesting broader applications of this methodology in present and future criminal and criminal justice research situations.

Full Citation: Jeff Ferrell (1997) 'Criminological verstehen: Inside the immediacy of crime'. In: Justice Quarterly 14(1): pp. 3-23. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07418829700093201

You can download this article from Taylor & Francis Online here

June 2017

In June 2017 the CrimNet Reading Group discussed the 2016 paper 'Pleasure Zones and Murder Boxes: Online Pornography and Violent Video Games as Cultural Zones of Exception' by Rowland Atkinson and Thomas Rodgers.

Abstract: New media formats and technologies raise questions about new-found abilities to indulge apparently limitless violent and sadistic curiosity within our culture. In this context, the mainstreaming of sex and violence via mobile and screen media systems opens important questions about the degree to which these influences are harmful or indicative of deeper social problems. In this article, we offer a preliminary analysis of the consequences of these new media zones, acknowledging their allure, excitement and everyday cultural position. In particular, we focus on a distinctive hallmark of much online pornography and massively popular violent video games—the offer of unchecked encounters with others who can be subordinated to violent and sexual desire. We suggest that a key implication of these zones of cultural exception, in which social rules can be more or less abandoned, is their role in further assisting denials of harm from the perspective of hyper-masculinist and militaristic social value systems.

Full citation: Rowland Atkinson, Thomas Rodgers; Pleasure Zones and Murder Boxes: Online Pornography and Violent Video Games as Cultural Zones of Exception. Br J Criminol 2016; 56 (6): 1291-1307. doi: 10.1093/bjc/azv113

You can download this open access article from Oxford Academic

May 2017

In May 2017 the CrimNet Reading Group discussed the 2004 paper 'So 'Prison Works', Does It? The Criminal Careers of 130 Men Released from Prison under Home Secretary, Michael Howard' by Ron Burnett and Shadd Maruna.

Abstract: A 1992 study, The Dynamics of Recidivism, was cited by the Home Secretary of the Conservative government during the 1990s to support the political doctrine that ‘prison works’. This claim drew on qualitative data from pre- and post-prison interviews of 130 male offenders to uphold a narrow rational choice perspective that emphasised the perceived ‘costs’ of imprisonment to the offender. A ten-year reconviction study was carried out as a follow-up to the 1992 study. The subsequent criminal careers of the majority of the sample contradict an assumption that imprisonment has a deterrent impact. In the light of these findings, and an analysis of the differential impacts of subjective and social factors in the experiences of these ex-prisoners, this article reviews the limitations of ‘rational choice theory’ as a basis for understanding recidivism and desistance from crime.

Full citation: Burnett, R. and Maruna, S. (2004), So ‘Prison Works’, Does It? The Criminal Careers of 130 Men Released from Prison under Home Secretary, Michael Howard. The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, 43: 390–404. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2311.2004.00337.x

You can download this article from Wiley Online Library.

March 2017

In March 2017 the CrimNet Reading Group discussed the 2017 paper 'The President's role in advancing criminal justice reform' by Barack Obama.

Abstract: Criminal justice is a complex system, administered at all levels of government and shaped by a range of actors. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of so many in my Administration, the bipartisan push for reform from federal, state, and local officials, and the work of so many committed citizens outside government, America has made important strides. We have reduced overlong sentences for offenders and removed barriers for those with criminal records. We have made progress in helping people, especially young people, avoid getting entangled in the justice system in the first place. This Commentary talks about those achievements — and the tools Presidents can use to effect meaningful change throughout the system. And it emphasizes the continuing historic opportunity to make further progress.

Full citation: Obama, B. (2017), 'The President's role in advancing criminal justice reform'. Harvard Law Review, 130(3): 811-866

You can download this article from the Harward Law Review.

January 2017

At the first meeting of the CrimNet reading group the 2014 paper 'Seeing things: Violence, voyeurism and the camera' by Eamonn Carrabine was discussed. 

Abstract: In increasingly mediatized cultures it is essential that criminologists develop more sophisticated understandings of the power of images and this article offers such an approach. It begins by setting out some of the relationships between photography and criminology as they have evolved over time to enable a richer understanding of how the modern criminal subject is constructed and how archival practices have a significant bearing on how meanings are organized. The second section develops these arguments by focusing on the controversies generated by four images that are among the most astonishing documents to have survived Auschwitz, providing visual evidence of the ‘crime of crimes’. In the final section the distinctive problems posed whenever images of horrific events are re-presented in artistic contexts are confronted in an effort to build a more critically engaged visual criminology.

Full citation: Carrabine, E. (2014), 'Seeing things: Violence, voyeurism and the camera'. Theoretical Criminology, 18(2): 134-158. doi: 10.1177/1362480613508425

You can download this article from Sage journals.