An undeniable advantage of being a criminologist is that it sounds cool. Granted, the coolness factor of saying, ‘I’m a criminologist’ wears off quickly, usually when you admit that you cannot solve crime, are not a profiler and know little about psychopaths. But criminology is still one of the flashier branches of sociology.
Critical criminology is especially cool. We fight the system and question cultural hegemony. We investigate the criminal justice system and modes of surveillance. We challenge definitions of crime. We like hanging out with drug dealers, refugees, prostitutes or anyone, really, who is perceived as deviant by mainstream society.
There are many different schools of thought within critical criminology. We may have our differences, but we can all agree on who we are not like: financial analysts and bankers, clean-cut, serious people in suits who have starting salaries tenured professors can only dream of – those people we all know who sit in steel and glass towers and play with highly complex mathematical models, who can make millions at the wink of an eye. We criminologists may work with concepts like capitalism, neo-liberalism or consumer culture. But we mostly look at how they affect people at the bottom of the social ladder. Rarely do we look at those prospering from our current financial system. Continue reading
This criminological theory monster is based on Charles Tittle’s (2000) article ‘Theoretical Developments in Criminology’. For references (and to find out what theories exactly I am talking about) please look at the original article.
In today’s edition of the Guardian there is an article by Dave Hill in the Comment is Free section titled Don’t give money to beggars – help them instead.
In this article Hill argues that you shouldn’t give money to people begging on the street because it harms them more than it helps them as they will probably spend it on drugs and alcohol. As far as Hill is concerned this is such an obvious argument that everyone agrees. He writes “Outreach workers know it.[That money given to beggars will mostly be used for drugs] The police know it. They are the ones who have to deal with the consequences, handling the harder cases, directing them to rehab, hoping not to have to fish a corpse out of a hostel’s bath.”
As I am a former outreach worker Hill apparently thinks he can speak for me. He isn’t completely wrong, of course, when he writes that money people get from others may be spent on drugs and alcohol. He is, however, wrong about almost everything else and I’d like to take this opportunity to respond.
To start of this blog off I am crossposting asomething I wrote a while ago.
At the height of my procrastination efforts, I have made a criminological mixtape. Enjoy!
- Traditional – Little Sadie/Cocain Blues
The first written version of ‘Little Sadie’ is dated 1922. In its long history the song has been recorded Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Woody Guthry, and many others.
2. Bob Dylan – The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll (1964)
Dylan wrote this song at the age of 22, after reading about the killing of Hattie Carroll in a newspaper. In 1963, on the same day that Martin Luther King Jr. held his ‘I have a dream’ speech, the white tobacco farmer William Zantzinger had been sentenced to six months in prison and a 500 $ fine for manslaughter after killing Carroll, a black barmaid, in a drunken rage. Dylan turned the case into a powerful metaphor for race and class in America that transcends time and space.