Cultural Criminology, or the Conscientious Withdrawal of Efficiency

Jeff Ferrell, Texas Christian University

The development of cultural criminology over the past decade or so has generated a series of distinct counter-practices to the enterprise of official criminology. Cultural criminology's emphasis on representation, style, and contested meaning problematizes much of the taken-for-granted subject matter of official criminology. Its commitment to unearthing buried accounts and promoting subaltern understandings interrupts officvial criminology's pervasive public claimsmaking. Perhaps the more literary style of writing and reporting favored by cultural criminologists has even served to seduce some away from the abstract parsimony of official criminological accounts. Most interestingly, cultural criminology's tendency toward deep engagement with its subjects of study has defined it as a sdoundly inefficient undertaking, and thus by its own pace and practice placed cultural criminology in opposition to the bureaucratic machinery of official criminology--a machinery designed for the efficient conversion of human experience into statistical residue.

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Updated 05/20/2006