Cultural Criminology: An Invitation by Jeff Ferrell, Keith Hayward, Jock Young

By Jeff Ferrell, Keith Hayward, Jock Young

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Extra resources for Cultural Criminology: An Invitation

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Subcultural theory Subcultural approaches to crime and deviance have a long history, dating to the vivid descriptions of criminal underworlds in the Victorian era. For all their fine detail, though, early subcultural accounts tended to mix moralism with description – but to omit theory. They described subcultural values, showed how these values were transmitted in a normal process of socialization, but did not explain their origins. qxp 8/29/2008 6:25 PM Page 34 values and their origins which is the hallmark of what one might term ‘mature subcultural theory’.

Deviant behaviour is viewed as a meaningful attempt to solve the problems faced by an isolated or marginalized group; it is necessary, therefore, to explore and understand the subjective experiences of subcultural members. Culture in this anthropological sense constitutes the innovations people have evolved in collectively confronting the problems of everyday life. These include language, ways of dress, moral standards, myths, political ideologies, art forms, work norms, modes of sexuality – in sum, all creative and collective human behaviour.

Is it a matter of ‘binge drinking’, in need of legal regulation? Or is it an illness called ‘alcoholism’? qxp 8/29/2008 6:25 PM Page 38 control of serious drinking involve campus authorities, the police, Alcoholics Anonymous officials, or psychotherapists? Significantly, each of these labels creates its own deviants and deviant trajectories. Labelling a serious drinker an alcoholic invokes a particular regime of treatment, a particular set of assumptions about illness, responsibility and relapse, and so a particular set of ongoing consequences for family and career; labelling a serious drinker a criminal invokes a very different set of meanings for self and society, and so sets that person on a different course regarding career and criminal justice.

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