A criminal subculture

A large body of research in cultural criminology examines the nature of these understandings and the public dynamics of their production. Like cultural criminology generally, much of the research here (Adler & Adler 1994, Goode & Ben-Yehuda 1994, Hollywood 1997, Jenkins 1992, Sparks 1995, Thornton 1994) builds on the classic analytic models of cultural studies and interactionist sociology, as embodied in concepts such as moral entrepreneurship and moral enterprise in the creation of crime and deviance (Becker 1963), and the invention of folk devils as a means of generating moral panic (Cohen 1972/1980) around issues of crime and deviance.

Exploring the epistemic frameworks surrounding everyday understandings of crime controversies, this research (Best 1995) problematizes and unpacks taken-for-granted assumptions regarding the prevalence of criminality and the particular characteristics of criminals, and the research traces the se assumptions to the interrelated workings of interest groups, media institutions, and criminal justice organizations. Emerging scholarship in cultural criminology also offers useful reconceptualizations and refinements of these analytic models.

McRobbie & Thornton (1995), for example, argue that the essential concepts of "moral panic" and "folk devils" must be reconsidered in multi-mediated societies; with the proliferation of media channels and the saturation of media markets, moral panics have become both dangerous endeavors and marketable commodities, and folk devils now find themselves both stigmatized and lionized in mainstream media and alternative media alike.

Similarly, Jenkins's (1999) recent work has begun to refine understandings of crime and justice issues as social and cultural constructions. Building on his earlier, meticulous deconstructions of drug panics, serial homicide scares, and other constructed crime controversies, Jenkins (1994a,b) argues that attention must be paid to the media and political dynamics underlying "unconstructed" crime as well.

Jenkins explores the failure to frame activities such as a nti-abortion violence as criminal terrorism, situates this failure within active media and political processes, and thus questions the meaning of that for which no criminal meaning is provided. Conclusions As an emerging perspective within criminology, sociology, and criminal justice, cultural criminology draws from a wide range of intellectual orientations.

Revisiting and perhaps reinventing existing paradigms in cultural studies, the "new" criminology, interactionist sociology, and critical theory; integrating insights from postmodern, feminist, and constructionist thought; and incorporating aspects of newsmaking, constitutive, and other evolving criminologies like crime is contested issue etc, criminology seek less to synthesize or subsume these various perspectives than to engage them in a critical, multifaceted exploration of culture and crime.

Linking these diverse intellectual dimensions, and their attendant methodologies of ethnography and media/textual analysis, is cultural criminology's overarching concern with the meaning of crime and crime control. Some three decades ago, Cohen (1988:68, 1971:19) wrote of "placing on the agenda" of a culturally informed criminology issues of "subjective meaning," and of deviance and crime a s "meaningful action.

" Cultural criminology embraces and expands this agenda by exploring the complex construction, attribution, and appropriation of meaning that occurs within and between media and political formations, illicit subcultures, and audiences around matters of crime and crime control. In so doing, cultural criminology likewise highlights the inevitability of the image. Inside the stylized rhythms of a criminal subculture, reading a newspaper crime report or perusing a police file, caught between the panic and pleasure of crime.


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