Against Criminal Justice: Ideological Struggles, Political Battlefields and the Need for Critical Cultural Criinologies

Stephen Muzzatti, University of Northern Iowa

The study of crime is a highly contested and problematic terrain. Since at least the emergence of the "new criminologies" in the early 1970s, criminologists of the "critical" type have struggled to recondeptualise their subject matter in classrooms, conference sessions and publications. In addition to attempts to break free of the undue focus on "nuts, sluts and perverts", they have firmly resisted the cultural inducements to become pragmatic planners of the prison-industrial empire. Sadly, during the same time, there was a reactionary trend in the academy; the emergence of criminal justice education. Unfortunately, driven largely by an intolerant public, the need/desire for financial support from the federal and state governments, and college administrators who view students as "customers", the pendulum has swung toward an increasingly pragmatic criminal justice/war on crime orientation. This paper addresses both the ideological and conceptual struggles over the "ownership of crime" as well as the everyday/night experiences of two relatively young critical cultural criminologists in their struggle to prevent criminology from becoming wholly an epistemology of the State.

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Updated 05/20/2006