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Public Criminologies: Diverse perspectives on academia and policy

McLaughlin, E. & Chancer, L. (2007). Public Criminologies: Diverse perspectives on academia and policy. Theoretical Criminology: an International Journal, 11(2), pp. 155-173. doi: 10.1177/1362480607075845


The origins of this Special Issue of Theoretical Criminology can be located in a ‘Modernizing Criminal Justice’ conference that we both attended in London in June 2002. The high-profile event was co-sponsored by John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York, the Metropolitan Police and the FBI. Broadcasting crews were on hand to digest the plenary speeches of senior representatives of the British government, the judiciary and law enforcement agencies. It was also a highly corporate event, promoting the commercial products of global security and IT companies specializing in criminal justice ‘problem solving’. The opening session of the conference featured a slow motion replay of the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers with a voice-over informing the audience that the course of criminal justice had changed forever. This ‘post 9/11’ global war on crime and terrorism theme echoed throughout the plenary speeches and keynote sessions. What was striking was the relegation of the scheduled criminology workshops to the margins of the conference. This set off a discussion between us, during a coffee break, about why academic criminological knowledge was extraneous to the interests of the policy audiences brought together by this conference. And, of course, this quickly moved to discussion of whether criminologists should have a central place in such a forum. But while this is how our interest in criminology and public policy was initially sparked, we later found ourselves trying to pinpoint, more systematically, the different positions criminologists have taken on questions of their relevance and status within larger public policy debates.2 Our purposes in this introduction, and in the Special Issue that follows, are twofold. One aim is to outline a range of views that have been offered by academic criminologists on the discipline’s public status and its relationship to public policy formation and intellectual practice. A second goal is to argue the need for a diversity of ‘public criminologies’ wherein explicit value is placed on moving policies in more progressive directions. Our own point of view is that much more could be done than at present, particularly since there would seem to be broad criminological consensus about many policy issues facing us including punitive policies around the globe as well as the detrimental consequences of a range of harms and risks.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: Special Issue
Publisher Keywords: 1602 Criminology, 1801 Law
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > Sociology & Criminology
SWORD Depositor:
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