Saturday, September 09, 2017

Don’t pick on people pick up litter.

The blog entry below appeared 5 years ago on the now defunct but much missed Works for Freedom site associated with the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies. I’m republishing it now because of fresh proposals to tackle litter.

As the Daily Mail says:

Litter fines set to DOUBLE: Rubbish louts now face £150 on-the-spot penalty while late payers will be forced to stump up £300
Theresa May's election manifesto promised to 'do more to reduce litter' 
The current maximum fine stands at £80 but town halls have demanded a rise
A large majority of councils now want the power to levy fines of £150 for littering

I stand by my conclusions but should make it clear:

I don’t believe this will deter ‘litterers’;
I don’t believe there is such a thing as a ‘litterer’, let alone ‘litterbug’ or ‘litter lout’;
I believe this will be used to raise much needed cash for local councils whilst decreasing respect for them and the law and
will involve privatised criminalisation of the poor and easily targeted.

Don’t pick on people; pick up litter.


’Hard’ to be green?  ‘Zero-tolerance’ and litter

My chapter ‘Matter All Over the Place: Litter, Criminology and Criminal Justice’ in the forthcoming Routledge International Handbook of Green Criminology explores a ‘green perspective’ on litter.  It runs through criminological theory, anthropology, art and poetry to sort of conclude, untidily, that litter is difficult to define but should be important to green criminology.

That is, for very good reason, green criminology has looked at the larger misdeeds of polluters.  In this they might be seen to be following in the muck-raking traditions of investigative journalism and radical criminology.  Green activists too, often focus on these global issues ignoring the more local, indeed the hyper-local.  Litter is globally a very local issue.

The only criminology that seems to have engaged with litter was of the ‘Broken Windows’ variety.  Indeed, I found a large packaging firm in America directly quoting Wilson and Kelling on their website and claiming, ‘that litter is a "people issue" not a product issue.’  This may remind us of the NRA mantra that guns don’t kill people, people do.  Their website has since changed but they continue to be ‘concerned’ about litter.

As a teaching point I sometimes try to provoke students by pointing out the persistence of the average litterer against that of ‘your average murderer’ and suggest highly punitive prospective incapacitation punishment of litterers.  I’m as opposed (who claims to be for it?) to litter as most and occasionally ‘return’ it to its owner or clear up litter that is not mine yet I’ don’t advocate a punitive approach.  I think that this comes more from my criminological beliefs than my green ones.  Here I can only assert that the green take on punishment should be to reduce, reuse and recycle not throw away lives, even of ‘green’ offenders.

But as we shall see, others not necessarily ‘green’ but in the interests of ‘the Environment’, are keen to police, prosecute and punish and often through the private sector.  For instance,  Blaenau Gwent Council is now employing security guards from Xfor who make much of media coverage of their activities.  For instance, this advertorial from Environmental Health News in which they boast of their single and joint operations under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.  Apparently Maidstone, Enfield, Broxbourne borough, Birmingham City and Peterborough City Councils have all used their services.  Some of such usages have been sharply criticised by Big Brother Watch and by Ministers and the Daily Mail.

There is a disputed line between anti-social behaviour and the criminalisation of the disapproved.  There is also the temptation to pick low hanging fruit in any policing situation.  That is to pick on the discarded fag end not the factory that produces them.  The malleability of definitions in this field also mean that a reasonable desire to see the end of litter means some Councils are now using the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 to restrict public leafleting.

So don’t litter or else local or national authorities will use it as an excuse to criminalise you or remove your political rights.  Snappy slogan eh?

Monday, August 14, 2017

Too many moral panics not enough folk devils. Was Stan Cohen wrong about his own work?

This was posted on the Works for Freedom website in May 2013 which is sadly no more. I’ve just updated the links etc.

This is a short blog post, not a doctoral thesis.  I cannot come close to doing justice to the extensive primary and secondary literature on moral panics.  So apologies if I missed the very article or paragraph that says exactly what I say here.  But no apologies for running the argument as I feel it is under represented.  That argument is that the term ‘moral panic’ is overused.  That may be contested by few.  More contentious is my argument that even the late Stan Cohen misused it.

Rather than engage textually with many examples I offer, unusually for me, a bone-headed, positivistic, empirical account which updates my ‘Criminologists Say ….’.  A search of Lexis Library of UK newspapers shows 107 mentions of moral panics for the year 2012 (choosing the last twelve months throws up Stan’s obituaries) but only 22 of folk devils.  This is even replicated in the book with 83 mentions of moral panics against 44 of folk devils.  So to some theory.

Angela McRobbie and Sarah L. Thornton (1995: 559) argue that:

'folk devils' are less marginalized than they once were; they not only find themselves vociferously and articulately supported in the same mass media that castigates them, but their interests are also defended by their own niche and micro-media. 

And even more importantly for my argument:

this approach challenged moral guardians by suggesting that their overreaction was counterproductive. The media coverage of deviance acted as a kind of handbook of possibilities to be picked over by new recruits (McRobbie and Thornton 1995: 561).

I initially read the first edition of Folk Devils and Moral Panics: The creation of the Mods and Rockers (the link here is to the third which can be recommended for Stan’s own thoughts on the development of the term).  My reading was after the first ‘moment’ of mod: indeed after I gave up riding a stripped down Lambretta TV175.  I also sported, at that time, what purported to be a Korean War surplus parka and a ‘suedehead’ haircut.  I further mangled sub-cultures by wearing the same gear on the Matchless 250 (a motorbike, the staple of ‘Rocker’ style) I rode after the scooter packed up.  So I was old enough to remember the events described by Stan as described by the media.  And I had personal access to the ‘handbook’ to which McRobbie and Thornton refer.

I may have come too late to mod but claim to have become sociologically aware early  (through my reading of the alternative press, mostly Oz, see this post) that as a young person who dressed in certain ways I was in danger of being stereotyped (see also this on beards and tattoos).

My argument is that the first part of the couplet ‘Folk Devil/Moral Panic’ has been paid insufficient attention.  In particular, their articulation in the subtitle ‘the creation of the Mods and Rockers’ (emphasis added).  I know from the standpoint of a young person at the time that Mods and Rockers and other youth tribes in many respects created themselves but in an asymmetric relation to the media and authority.  They may have come up from the streets but they entered most young people’s consciousness through their parent’s condemnatory media.  Their parent’s Durkheimian moral boundaries may have been reinforced but their’s were expanded.

With his emphasis on deviancy amplification I believe that Cohen is arguing that the moral panic is counterproductive because it creates folk devils who attract adherents.  So joining a youth tribe, taking ecstasy or legal highs might meet such a definition of a moral panic featuring a handsome devil but becoming a sex offender does not.  So it is disappointing to find Stan discussing the Cleveland sex abuse scandal thus, ‘the resulting moral panic became a pitched battle of claims and counter claims’ and goes on to talk of ‘satanic abuse’ cases as ‘more fictitious and one of the purest cases of moral panic’ (2002: xvii).

For me those events were media frenzies involving moral entrepreneurs and media in an amplification spiral that did not generate deviance but more victims.  The paedophile is not a ‘folk devil’ but a bogeyman or ‘boo’ figure.  Being so reviled attracts no adherents.  In the case of media drugs frenzies the ‘boo’ figure is the ‘evil dealer’ but the ‘folk devil’ is more often the booze, the weed, the Es or the legal highs rather than the wasted junkie (though fashion is sometimes accused of pushing this line).

So I believe that to follow Stan requires a parsimonious definition of a ‘moral panic’ and that one handy rule might be that if the media use the term it isn’t one.

Jimmy Savile: 'Stranger danger'/'celebrity' danger and a ‘delayed moral panic’

This was posted on the Works for Freedom website in October 2012 which is sadly no more. I’ve just updated the links etc.

What more can be said about the case of Jimmy Savile or that which will not be overtaken by events in this ever-expanding case and cause for concern?  As a lecturer in crime and media I often set my students a theoretical essay in which I ask them if concerns about paedophilia amount to a ‘moral panic’.  I expect them to set out the classic morphology of a ‘moral panic’ derived from Stan Cohen’s work and assess whether frequent media frenzies amount to ‘moral panics’.  The best also consider the many theoretical and popular linguistic additions to the concept (even the press use the phrase) and whether those are helpful.  The very best might remember me pointing them in the direction of the work of feminists, for instance Jenny Kitzinger.

She was writing, in the late ‘90s, about the media’s ‘discovery’ of paedophilia in the mid ‘80s by press and current affairs programmes and also in serials and soaps.  She argues against reducing, or dismissing (see this from Spiked for instance now), this all as a media frenzy and sees it as other than or more than a ‘moral panic’.  I’m with her on much of this and want hark back to her, and other’s (see Cowburn and Dominelli for instance), idea of ‘stranger danger’ and the media’s part in its construction.  But first some history/context.

Music Journalist Charles Shaar Murray recalls how he was a contributor/editor of the School Kid’s Oz.  I wasn't but I wish now I was.  I was 17 when the editors put out a call for 15-18 years olds to edit/write Oz 28, publication of which lead to the conviction of the adult editors for obscenity.  As a regular reader it crossed my mind to volunteer.

As a student at the school which Mick Jagger had left only 5 years before London and the ‘swinging sixties’ seemed very near yet out of reach.  The zeitgeist that reached me through the underground press (and the condemnation of the traditional media) strongly suggested that liberation meant liberation for women, black people, gays and formerly condemned minorities.  Oh, and it was going to bring about the revolution too (my dumb hippy shame)!  So I was aware of the existence of PIE (Paedophile Information Exchange) which was not necessarily embraced in the counter-culture but not condemned as it would be today.  At the time PIE rode alongside the growing gay liberation movement and other radical movements, so perhaps some feared to condemn them and PIE did have a real point (if hardly neutral) in campaigning about the age of consent which was then 21 for male homosex.

As my imagined sex life had begun before secondary school I too thought the age of consent should be dropped; but it was the fact that Dartford Grammar was single sex that most hampered my desires.  So leaving aside the atmosphere of Radio 1 that some have mentioned as context for Savile’s offences I do recall a wider ‘loosening’.  That atmosphere is now roundly condemned here (comment 12).  It seems clear now, but might have been guessed at from emerging feminist thinking, that the main beneficiaries would be older men and not me.

Like many crimes that attract media interest Savile’s case is used not only to talk about the crimes (with old media often shying away from the details yet new media already attracting jokes in bad taste) but also wider concerns and activities (eg BBC bashing).  But are these concerns a delayed or retrospective ‘moral panic’?

In these matters I look not only for the moralising and panic which we have in excess but also the demonised ‘other’ and here instead of the generalised bogey man of the ‘paedophile’ we have the figure of Jimmy Savile.  But also I look for the amplification, the media condemnation which worsens the situation.  The Daily Sketch taunts of ‘retarded vain young hot-blooded paycocks’ that drives the purchase of scooters, motor-bikes, italian suits and leather jackets and ensures the return match.  So not a moral panic for me.  Only a bold punk band seeking instant demonisation/fame might now call themselves The Jimmy Savile’s.  I see no-one signing up to that monstered regiment of paedophiles.

And back to Kitzinger, how do we now see the issue of stranger danger?  Will any amplification occur in respect of an expansion of our appreciation real and ongoing dangers to children.  Where do celebrities sit in the family/stranger continuum?  I know many I’d be happy to keep out of my living room.  Luckily, unlike Mary Whitehouse my TV comes with a channel changer. 

Sadly for the moment the focus will be on the past and the other hoopla.  Sadly too in the future ‘solutions’ will be found which promise much but merely add repression and bureaucracy without any added safety.  Savile may have persuaded himself these young women and girls were ‘groupies’  but the real groupies were those who fawned over his celebrity status and the cachet he could bring them or their organisations.

And, to return to my hippy roots, we need to be less respectful and encourage children to speak out.  As a boy climbing trees on Clapham Common in the late 50s I disrespectfully told any older man who approached to ‘fuck off’.

Criminology: Now and then

Your ordinary burglar and forger must pale his ineffectual fires before the brilliant scoundrelism of the man who accepts the fortune of his friend in trust and either spends it in such a way that he is fairly safe in the Bankruptcy Court, or absconds with what is left of it to sunnier climes.
The lengthy quote above appears in an article on the front page of the Pall Mall Gazette on 8 May 1900 which is headlined, simply, ‘Criminology’. It contains many observations of a criminological nature without specifically mentioning any criminologist. We should not be surprised by this (Groombridge, 2007) but it is heartening to note the presumption that readers will know the term. The politics of the paper varied over time - and at this time passed the prime of its radical investigations under W.T Stead - but its compassion and, even, admiration for the ordinary criminal is interesting in th elight of much modern media treatment of crime and criminals.

The opening sentence clearly sees criminology - it is not mentioned specifically again the body of the text - in positivistic but patronisingly compassionate light.
The criminal is an interesting creature considered in the scientific perspective and when in custody. Sometimes he is not all unpleasant; circumstances and a weak will being unable to balance each other, he has fallen into the mire, and lies there with an expression of futile innocence almost ludicrous.
The mention of ‘will’ draws on classicist notions but much of the explanation is a combination of biological, psychological and sociological positivism combined with a desire to be relevant to criminal justice. I intensify this as ‘neo-classical’ in the traction of Tarde. I see this puts me in dispute with the author of the wikipedia page on Neo-classical school (criminology) which aligns it with right realism and name checks social control, drift and rational choice.

Some snippets must suffice:
Crafty criminals […] are few and far between 
the criminal has a brain of inferior quality
the bloodthirsty kind […] general die mad if they be not hanged
the ordinary criminal who suffers imprisonment for petty larceny is quite uninteresting.
In the unlikely event our larcenist becomes expert the Gazette then admits he has: 
many notable characteristics […] persistence of purpose […] may yet sometimes be regarded as evidence of uncommon strength of mind.
It rather relativistically and callously suggests that the burglar:
breaks into the house and carries off the spoons and the tea basket of some respectable mediocrity, who is generally insured against loss of the kind.
They mention the work of Sir Edward Troup at the Home Office to suggest there have been reductions in crime but greater activities by criminals and police.  Two matters are highlighted 1) crimes in seaports by seamen and those who ‘prey on them’ (‘moral scum of the earth’) and 2) the new offences created by the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885. Interestingly Troup is said to have had severe doubts about the value of police statistics (Sir Leon Radzinowicz).

The CLAA 1885 will be known to some for its section 11 further criminalising sex between men. We are celebrating its repeal 50 years ago in England and Wales. Most of it was about ‘rescuing’ women - fears of white slavery and dangers to heiresses - but did raise the age of consent to 16 from 12 in 1861 and 13 in 1875. The work of the journalist Stead in the Pall Mall Gazette (The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon) on this might be contrasted with MP/editor Labouchere who introduced the section which caught Oscar Wilde and Alan Turing. Stead received a 3 month sentence for his unethical methods, that is purchasing a girl. It is not clear if Labouchere intended his clause to succeed (see his entry in Who's who in Gay and Lesbian History: From Antiquity to World War II).

But all of this is throat-clearing on the way to its fulminations against bent solicitors and the inadequacies of the Law Society (and need for greater regulation) which take up the second half. After listing various scandals they turn to victimology, or victim-blaming; opining:
clients ought to take the most elementary precautions against being swindled
if such ordinary precautions were taken, half of the scandals, which are, indeed, much to numerous to be creditable to a great profession, would not happen.

I don’t know what caused these thoughts on criminology, penology and victimology so must turn to historians. Any thoughts? What was going on then?

Friday, January 08, 2016

Making a Murderer

Are we all citizen journalist detective criminologists now?

When I tell people that I am a criminologist they exclaim, ‘how interesting that must be’! Some, like students at our open days, want to talk about serial killers. This may have something to do with media coverage of crime and criminal justice where atypical events are covered stereotypically in contrast to an overtypical normality (Jock Young). I counter that criminology is often more mundane than that, and more likely to be about serial burglars or, in my case, serial car thieves.

Left, and liberally-inclined, criminologists often have no truck with the media for such reasons but some independently minded journalists have always, and continue to, muckrake. The new media ecology means that new voices are being heard, for instance women podcasters. Kirsty Major discusses Serial as an investigation into the conviction of Adnan Syed for the murder of Hae Min Lee but also as the work of women often excluded from journalism.

Miscarriages of justice and police corruption or malpractice have not always been popular with authority, media owners and editors but have always had some traction. In the wake of Serial we now have Netflix’s Making a Murderer and HBO’S The Jinx. For a media commentator the rise of the documentary is fascinating and for the criminologist the public’s fascination with crime is ongoing.

Evidence for that fascination may range from a rise in the number of criminology degrees and students to attend them, through the cult of nordic noir, the ever growing true and fictional crime literature to exhibitions like the Museum of London’s Crime Museum Uncovered.

Great claims are made for the success of Serial or Making a Murderer in mobilising support for the wrongly accused but Rough Justice was a BBC TV series in the 1980s which highlighted a number of miscarriages of justice and successfully campaigned for the introduction of the Criminal Case Review Commission the like of which might help in some of the US cases. On the other hand the UK could do with some of the freedom of information and access that has helped the makers of US series.

Some argue that a form of miscarriage of justice occurs when the guilty are not convicted - the story seems unfinished. The Jinx focusses on accusations against millionaire Robert Durst that he murdered his wife Kathie, and later a potential witness, Susan Berman. Here the journalists act as alternative detectives or prosecutors. A form of real life Cluedo where they have to name Colonel Mustard or Miss Scarlet.

But there are dangers and concerns. Websleuths can claim some success but some actions move beyond citizen detection/journalism to vigilantism. Even if not breaking the law, ‘paedophile hunters’ may be hindering police. Life is complicated and good guys and bad guys no longer wear black or white hats to help us. The best crime dramas now reflect that. The desire to investigate or to be helpful has lead to several trials being abandoned after jurors ignored warnings not to ‘research’ the case on the internet.

Biological, psychological, sociological and political approaches are all used in criminology and might also explain our fascination with crime. We might be biologically programmed to learn from the mistakes of others or psychologically to take comfort in the difficulties of others. One sociological function of crime is to remind us of moral boundaries (Durkheim). Politically crime can function as social control - the nanny state’s armed wing will keep you safe. The conspiracy elements in Making a Murderer may deflect attention from the much wider structural problems of American society and criminal justice, particularly in respect of minority groups, even if they prove correct in any individual case.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Review of Queering Criminology Dwyer, Ball and Crofts (ends)

Queering Criminology (2015) Edited by Angela Dwyer, Matthew Ball, Thomas Crofts Palgrave Hardcover 272 pages

The luxury of reviewing for the web and for my own site means I can use a longer form and even publish over time. In this first review I’ll take up some of the issues in the introductory chapter and the second by Dalton. Some might note these are the only chapters to cite my work to which I respond that I hope I have something relevant to say. But also they come first and address big theoretical issues in which I am interested.  I will then go on to make some initial observations about some of the later chapters which will be covered more fully in a later review(s). The headings are taken from the book but these first two chapters might be seen as addressing issues of where a queer criminology might fit - margin or mainstream?

I should make it clear I like the book and feel a wide audience within criminology should read it. Sadly I fear this may not be the case.
  1. Queering Criminologies; Angela Dwyer, Matthew Ball and Thomas Crofts

As an introductory chapter this sets out the themes and introduces us to the chapters that derive from a seminar held at Queensland University of Technology inspired by the earlier work of one contributor Stephen Tomsen. All are at Australian institutions.

First a textual observation. The book is called Queering Criminology yet the chapter is called Queering Criminologies (Extract here).

They open by discussing the ‘articulation’ or ‘nexus’ between queer and criminology (p1) and more entertainingly use Ball’s (forthcoming) borrowed expression, ‘dangerous bedfellows’ to describe the debate about whether to jump into bed with criminology. And how often and under what conditions of consent? Is there a ‘safe’ word?

Activists may see no need or reason to cosy up to a homophobic discipline. Early mention of Stonewall’s place in the history of LGBTIQ activism is appropriate but a chance is missed to note that for mainstream criminology and criminal justice this is a crime which might need explaining/condemning. Moreover such criminal activism runs counter to stereotypes of the passive queer.

We quickly come to Tomsen’s provocative contention that criminology was ‘a very queer discipline’ and mention of Dalton’s discomfort (Chapter 2) about ‘where queer fits in criminologies’ (p2). They too are unclear but intend queer to act as a noun and as a verb; to be ‘disturbing, challenging, and asking uncomfortable questions that produce new ways of thinking in in relation to to the lives of LGBTIQ people and criminal justice processes’ (p3). I think that is too limiting. It should be challenging all people about crime and criminal justice processes using the analytic of sexuality. They suggest (and Dalton takes this up too) that such disruptive work may necessitate working at the margins.

Some hope is seen in the recent publication of the Handbook of LGBT Communities, Crime and Justice and the special edition on Queer/ing Criminology of Critical Criminology. In addition we now have Queer Criminology by Buist and Lenning. Which I’ll review if Routledge send me a copy.

I won’t repeat what they say about the chapters but will draw on that for some of my comments. They conclude with the connections between, and the need to queer both, criminal law and criminology. Was that why I opted to submit my Perverse Criminologies, which they and Dalton quote often, to Social and Legal Studies? Or was it I feared to submit it to the British Journal of Criminology (BJC)? Dalton mentions the BJC and its very few mentions of ‘queer’. He found 19. I now find 22 but not all them are even relevant.


2. Reflections on the Emergence, Efficacy and Value of Queer Criminology; Derek Dalton

I’m very pleased that he has not only quoted my Perverse Criminology stuff but also the entry on Queer Theory in Sage Dictionary of Criminology. Mention of the complementary entry on Sexuality would have completed my day. What’s more he uses it to engage with important issues.

He speaks of his discomfort in criminology, even at criminological conferences, to be in or out of criminology but he doesn’t take Carol Smart’s postmodern feminist decision to shut the door to it. He ‘tends to disagree’ (p26) with me yet by page 29 he is contemplating throwing bricks through criminology’s window with Ball. He decides, however, to be a ‘charming man’ (my Smith’s reference not his) and offer advice to criminology not on a ‘make-over’ but a ‘make-better’ in the style of Queer Eye for a Straight Guy.

He recognises that criminology may need some convincing that it is a ‘naked Emperor’ (my coining) that needs sartorial advice or, at least, a modest and modish drape. So I think he is a little harsh in disagreeing with Sorainen (‘overblown’, p30) in her desire to problematise criminology. I’m very much with him in being ambivalent, playful, even up for ‘flirting,’ but I think he is getting a little overblown in ‘imploring all of you who read this chapter to seek to engage more directly with mainstream criminology so we can queer it and make it better’ (p31).

Obviously being playful here but my intention was to drive a bus packed with queer theory into the heart of mainstream criminology and detonate it, charmingly. Progress has been glacial. He notes that I said in my entry on Queer Theory that:
given the limited extent to which criminology has embraced feminism it seems that any serious consideration of sexualities as important to criminology - whether purely empirical, standpoint or queer - may take decades.

Evidence for this slow pace is that he quotes the 3rd edition. The article is unchanged since the first edition in 2001! Moreover, why is it by me? Why am I Queen of that Castle? Depose me. Charmingly. Some progress might be seen in that since Perverse Criminologies was published it has been cited 30 times (not counting these most recent mentions) but the first was not until 2003 and 21 of them only since 2012.

In discussing my entry on Queer Theory he notes that I do not call for a queer criminology and suggests I might be right not to have, as he says, ‘many more criminological incursions must be made if we are to leave a lasting impression on on criminology’ (p32) and earn its place in the dictionary. I was being diffident but also, unusually for me, seeking amity. I did not want to call for a further splits/schisms in criminology but to change it, profoundly; to queer it. Better markers might be the massive textbooks of criminology like Newburn’s, Carrabine et al or the Oxford Handbook which has no mention of any queer ‘ology.

LGBTIQ scholars have called for queer criminology now and it is not for me to deny it. Just note that it may be the gay empiricism or standpointism I imagined and not a criminology that had come fully to terms with sexuality. That is a criminology that even when carried out by cisgendered and cissexual criminologists was open to LGBTIQ currents and concerns. That the ‘Straight Guy’ could look in the mirror and use a ‘Queer Eye’.

We now turn to the remaining chapters which I’ve only scanned so far.

3. The Past is the Past? The Impossibility of Erasure of Historical LGBTIQ Policing; Angela Dwyer and Stephen Tomsen

Surprised that Marc Burke gets no mention. This is my use of him from Perverse Criminologies:

Burke (1993: 56–60) reports the double irony of a gay officer who tells of his ambivalence about his vice squad experience of policing cottages. In plain clothes and on duty – secure in his identity as a police officer – he was ‘queer-bashed’.
And this the link to his British Journal of Criminology article in 1994. I recall hearing him speak about officers like him being ‘doubly closeted’. Not out as gay in the police and not out as police when in gay milieus.

4. The 'Prison of Love' and Its Queer Discontents: On the Value of Paranoid and Reparative Readings in Queer Criminological Scholarship; Matthew Ball

For all my fighting talk, I’m a pacifist and broadly a supporter of Restorative Justice so favour the ‘reparative’ but fully understand the lure of the ‘paranoid’.


5. Disturbing Disgust: Gesturing to the Abject in Queer Cases; Senthorun Raj

In my work on Sports Criminology (Policy Press late 2016) I have returned to examine the Spanner trial (R v Brown) which Raj discusses. All sports law books discuss it because of its relevance to the consent implied when stepping into the ring or onto the field of play. But from some you’d struggle to know the case involved sex let alone gay sado-mascohistic sex. A further example of the abjection of which Raj speaks? There is also lots of mentions boxing and rugby (and the refereeing of) in the reasoning given in the case. I’ve pulled no punches.

6. Who is the Subject of Queer Criminology? Unravelling the Category of the Paedophile; Dave McDonald

I’m old enough to remember when the Paedophile Exchange Campaign was an openly campaigning group aligned with others for sexual freedom in the late 60s around the age of consent. This is challenging stuff but the very test of emerging perspectives that is needed.

7. International Legal Norms on the Right to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity: Australian Reforms Contextualised; Wendy O’Brien

I don’t know the Australian cases of Toonen and Norrie or about issues of the regulation of intersex people there.


8. Rainbow Crossings and Conspicuous Restraint: LGBTIQ Community Protest, Assembly and Police and Prosecutorial Discretion; Thomas Crofts and Tyrone Kirchengast

This raises the issue of relations with the police and their use of discretion. Neither the work on graffiti or policing cited is known to me. My references are UK/USA cultural criminology based or rely on the likes of Ben Bowling or Robert Reiner.

9. No Place Like Home: Intrafamilial Hate Crime Against Gay Men and Lesbians; Nicole L. Asquith and Christopher A. Fox

Clearly this raises sensitive issues that activists might prefer academics not to investigate but a truly queered criminology can’t have no go areas. Again my limited knowledge is UKcentric.

10. Queering Safety: LGBTIQ Young Adults' Production of Safety and Identity on a Night Out; Bianca Fileborn

I am looking forward to finding out how young LGBTIQ negotiate a night out.

11. Sexual Coercion in Men's Prisons; Paul Simpson, Joanne Reekie, Tony Butler, Juliet Richters, Lorraine Yap and Basil Donovan

The extent and complexity of consent issues outside of prison is difficult enough but doubly so in prison.  My only partial knowledge is of the situation in England and Wales. This is the Howard League Report on sex in prison.

12. Intimate Partner Violence within the Queensland Transgender Community: Barriers to Accessing Services and Seeking Help; Natasha Papazian and Matthew Ball

This feels like Public Criminology on behalf of the a particular community in a particular part of Australia that may be useful to them. I’ll see it I can draw out some wider lessons, if only for me.

One reason I have given so much time to this - and more to come - is that the final signs of interest in this area means I am now writing an article in which I seek to review what I’d got right, what wrong etc and show how, despite not inventing or naming ‘queer criminology’, I continued to queer my criminology if nobody else’s. Examples from 1999 and 2016 illustrate.

Though an inspiration I suggest a more queer reading for Tomsen’s work in my Perverse Criminologies:

However, the very real difficulties of doing this are illustrated by Thomsen’s (1997b) article ‘Social Protest, Masculinity and the Culture of Drinking Violence’. Despite his rhetoric about Lombroso’s ‘queerness’ in one article (1997a), he makes no mention of the sexuality of the participants or the place of homophobia in the construction of the homosociability he describes. He rightly places the drunken brawling in a context of male honour and carnival. However, imagine the club bouncers witnessing a same-sex ‘kiss-in’. That would surely reveal the shared homophobia of bouncers and bounced. Fisticuffs is easily assimilated by mainstream and masculinity criminology; fisting presents a challenge to both.

And this from Sports Criminology:

In a cultural criminology collection Jackson-Jacobs Curtis (2004) writes about the ‘brawling’ culture of some young men in Tucson. There is a very rough continuum from brawling through prize-fighting to boxing where the illegality/legality respectable/disreputable marker falls in different places at different times and in different jurisdictions (as shown in Chapters 1 and 2). He sets out his dissatisfactions with theories of failed self-control, psychic or status frustration to assert, ‘All patently fail to account for violence looked at in the context of spectatorship, performance, and participatory attractions’ (2004:232). As good a definition of sport as many. 
In his former hometown he hung out with and interviewed a loose group of 85 young men, mostly white but with some diversity of the region. Many were from economically comfortable families, most had jobs and some were doing military service. The network included women who were current or ex-girlfriends but some of them had ‘brawled’ too and not all the men had. His account concentrates on one brawl in March 2000 that had entered the groups joint narrative. 
Essentially the group went looking for brawls. Parties, to which they had not formally been invited, were good venues as they provided the alternative of picking up girls as well as or instead of a fight. His account hints at the near equivalence, ‘the brawl is intended to be a onetime affair … Strangers entice by promising a non-committal relationship’ (2004:234) and ‘a brawl experienced through the metaphor of the sexual ‘pick up’ (2004:236). This reminds me of the joyriders I engaged with (Groombridge, 1997) and suggests ‘joyfighting’ or ‘one-night fight’ as alternative labels for the activity. He tells of the groups attempts to get into a fight with some University of Arizona footballers - in which they eventually, though contingently, succeed. 
They expect that they will get beaten and are, but claim victory on the basis of some digs they get in and not being as injured as they expected. Moreover, ‘Rick’ fantasises about seeing ‘Dukey’ being beaten up or coming to the rescue of ‘Dukey’. Some psychodynamic or queer explanations might have been appropriate here for such homosocial sadism and chivalry. Moreover, the invitation to fight even has a ‘flirtatiousness’ about it that reminds of the ‘party girls’ that athletes claim swarm them. Furthermore, there is certain aggressive passivity in seeking to be the victim by provoking the attack that will justify their response. Interestingly Redhead describes the performance of hyper-masculinity given by the football fans he studies as, ‘camp’ (2015:23). Camp might also describe much professional wrestling though Corteen and Corteen (2012) focus on the real pain involved even in ‘scripted’ fights.

Another joy or online reviewing is that if any of the writers - or indeed others - want to join the debate they can make comments.  Moreover, happy to give you space on here to expand.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Redhead parks a theoretical bus in front of goal

A review of Steve Redhead’s (2015) Football and Accelerated Culture: This Modern Sporting Life Routledge

I’ve tweeted some potted reviews of early chapters of this book and even linked to the video in which the author is interviewed by his wife. Many of these have been retweeted by them.

My first tweet was not RT’d and my last not so far. The first tweet read
engaging chapter 1 really preface/intro with enough music mentions to float @TimNewburn boat but poor index!
More popular were:
Ch2 Football and Accelerated Culture roars down left wing exchanging 1-2s with Baudrillard, Badiou and Virilio. Will score? 
in Ch 3 of Football and Accelerated Culture @steveredhead bigs up his firm (university archive) and 'hits and tells' about #criminology 
also picks out the ‘camp’ in hyper-masculinity #footballaccelaratedculture I’ll claim that for #queercriminology
ch 5 mixes hooligan memoirs with some academic ones of his own - his greatest hits 
mentions @DonalMacIntyre journalism not his professorship 
So far my final tweet has gone unanswered.
What do pages 58 and 74 have in common?
The answer is a very lengthy and identical quote (third of a page) from ‘Pete Walsh, publisher of Milo books’. Readers of subtext might see some criticism in the other tweets too but no subtlety is intended in my complaint about the index. I’ve complained in the past about the index in other titles in Routledge’s Research Sport, Culture and Society series. Rosie Meek’s Sport in Prison is compromised by a poor one but I’ll return to this from time-to-time as the are other complaints and some praise to attend to.

It is appropriate that some of my first thoughts were dashed off quickly on social media and the index has mentions of Twitter on pages, 1, 9, 12-15, 19, 76 and 80 only missing the discussion on page 40 of the campaign demanding justice for the 96 (Hillsborough #jft96). The accelerated culture of Twitter means I can, with sufficient wit, give the impression of deep reading but the slower pace of writing this blog with quill pen by candle light demands more.

I think the book better illustrates the acceleration of culture than football does. I’ve been supporting football less assiduously than Steve and only slightly longer but for all the changes many things have not changed. The length of match and the means of deciding the game have not changed. What has changed is the amount of space (I’m not sufficiently aware of Virilio’s work - and Redhead’s 34 mentions largely assume you are - to know if his dromology covers time and space) given to sport, specifically football. Once only the cup final enjoyed as much pre and post match speculation and analysis but even the most mundane, end-of-season, mid-table match is declared the wonder of our age.

Twitter is quick and this book has been written quickly. I used some football metaphors in my tweets but cricket fits the purpose better here. Cricket has become quicker with a variety of short forms that some blame for the speed of even its full test version. Redhead is found at the crease knocking the bowling of those less versed in high theory to boundary in a series of aper├žus, reminiscences and boasts (which might have been demoted to footnotes) about his knowledge, connections and archive.

Tackling that high theory we find that he is attracted to Virilio’s work (but rejecting his idealist phenomenology) and to Baudrillard’s late (in his life and posthumously published) work (31 mentions) and dislikes attempts to position such work as either modern or post modern, preferring the term late modern. Zizek appreciatively mentioned nearly a dozen times.

He knows his criminology and criminologists (nearly 30 mentions but no index entry!) but you will need to them too as he rarely goes beyond a sketch or name check, save for a big shout out to Steve Hall and Simon Winlow’s Teesside Centre for Realist Criminology (TCRC) though not all of TCRC’s mentions are indexed and none of Hall and Winlow’s half dozen citations are indexed. Sociology has no index entry despite nearly 20 mentions.

He deploys terms like Claustropolis, Claustopolitanism and Claustropolitan Sociology extensively and these gets many index mentions and much of this is foreshadowed in his earlier work when at Brighton. From Virilio ‘Claustopolitanism’ is the move from the cosmopolis that classical sociology has studied to the gated (figuratively and metaphorically) ‘communities’ of today that require his Claustropolitan Sociology, ‘or ‘bunker anthropology’.

In addition to the problems with the index and the elliptical nature of some references to high theory and score settling the writing is often unnecessarily dense. Sometimes this in the obscurantist manner of some cultural studies but also, and contrawise (and here I’m aping the style) legalistically with, asides, and conditional legalistic, deemed necessary - but please in another sentence - clauses.

Additionally, and here we are moving on from the speed of the writing, we have the speed of the production. It has clearly not been properly edited or sub-edited and for this I blame his publishers. Thus, in addition to the repeat of the quotes on pages 57 and 74 we find that the term ‘Pete Walsh, publisher of Milo books’ appears six times. The expression ‘What I have called, with a considerable irony’ appears on pages 23, 51 and 67 and again as ‘heavy irony’ on pages 70 and 78. Throughout I found myself thinking I’d already read something in this book or his earlier work which he promotes at length throughout.

But it is not all bad. I’ll quote his work on the ‘camp’ ness of the hyper-masculinity of some of his hooligans (p23) and the queer tone of Morrissey’s love of Georgie Best (p92). I’ll quote too his opinion that sporting mega events will not regenerate Cities but ‘resettle’ them (p80).

I am grateful to learn of ‘physical cultural studies’.
And the football? Quite. There are sometimes long quotes (whole pages!) from the 108 hooligan memoirs covering the years 1987-2014 held at Charles Sturt University which are part of his ‘hit and tell’ project (nearly 20 mentions in book but none in index). Many of the mentions are otiose and repetitive. The contents of the archive are set out in Appendix 1 and Appendix 2 matches clubs and their ‘firms’ with the memoirs. A further appendix should have removed the unwieldy list of the ‘firms’ associated with various clubs that take up pages 29-31.
Most chapters start with a claim to link theory to the hooligan memoirs but most involve lengthy theoretical approach work and then some mention of those memoirs, diddling about the box, before shooting wide!
And finally back to the Index. As noted it is short and misses many of the most important topics, subjects and authors but it also includes some random elements. Reference to the Large Hadron Collider does appear on page 17 but only in most aleatory fashion. This book is as much about popular music as it is about football - and I agree with him about the need to treat sport as part of the cultural industries - though it is more about picking fights with fellow theorists, so it is worrying that Happy Mondays lose their second capital in the index though not throughout the text, as do Joy Division yet The Farm and The Hollies get their full appellation and Morrissey acquires his birth initial, ’S’ (and full name in text, p92).

Redhead parks a theoretical bus in front of goal.