12. Cultural Criminology
This chapter has outlined the key features of cultural criminology. Cultural criminology is an attempt to breathe new life into criminology. It borrows from and adapts earlier sociologically rooted theories of crime and deviance such as subcultural theory, labelling theory, and moral panic theory. It focuses on the foreground of crime, rather than abstract background factors. It analyses the everyday moments where crime weaves itself into our daily lives and focuses on crime as a reaction against boredom as well as an act that can be associated with pleasure and entertainment. Cultural criminology acknowledges and perhaps celebrates moments of resistance to oppressive systems of power that generate inequalities in late modern life. Those labelled criminal and deviant are seen to have agency, and their behaviour is viewed as purposeful, even when their actions at times seem irrational. The dumpster diver and the graffiti artist are viewed as potential urban activists whose activities constitute resistance to the boredom and mindless conformity of daily life. Crime and culture intertwine in media and provide moments for the enjoyment of crime, punishment and control. Crime seeps into our lives in many small ways and the task of cultural criminology is to analyse the haphazard and unexpected moments that can tell us much about crime in contemporary society as well as reveal something about the oppressive structures of power in late modernity. Cultural criminology might be a theoretical soup, but it is seasoned with spice and served hot at a time when crime and control appear to be moving faster than ever before. In this world, crime has meaning if only we care to look for it in the debris of contemporary culture. Welcome to the exciting world of cultural criminology. Join us, if you dare.