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Cultural Criminology and the Carnival of Crime

NCJ Number
Mike Presdee
Date Published
190 pages
In focusing on the criminalization of daily life and the meanings of crime, this book analyzes how daily responses to a modern, highly commodified consumer society become themselves defined as criminal; this is done through the discipline of "cultural criminology."
As defined in the first part of the book, "cultural criminology" attempts to "unravel and make sense of the processes whereby cultural forms and cultural expressions themselves become criminalized " (Ferrell and Sanders, 1995). This book uses the methodologies of the cultural criminologist to analyze the interrelationship between culture and crime. The author observes that daily life is becoming increasingly filled with violence, cruelty, hate, and humiliation. In attempting to make sense of this trend, this book argues that an over-organized economic world has provoked a widespread desire for extreme, oppositional forms of popular and personal pleasure. This desire has resulted in a cathartic "second life" of illicit pleasures often deemed criminal by those in power. Among the cultural manifestations identified as stemming from such an economic world is the living out of "carnival" desires on the streets through joy-riding, street crime, and antisocial behavior, as well as in private through the Internet. Further, the author notes the commodification of hate, hurt, and humiliation in popular culture, along with the popularizing and criminalization of sadomasochism and dance-music cultures. The author concludes that in order to make sense of senseless acts, it is necessary for criminologists to use the methods of cultural criminology. He also concludes that as successive governments take steps to further rationalize public life, they will continue to create crime rather than alleviate it. 207 references and a subject index


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