Toward a Criminology of Public Display

Jeff Ferrell, Texas Christian University

Over the past decade or so criminology has drifted into a greater concern with image and representation--an appropriate scholarly response to a world increasingly suffsed with displays of crime and crime control. Absent a reappraisal of traditional social scientific assumptions regarding images and aesthetics, however, this drift has produced more ugly distortions and than it has useful insights. If criminology is to move past this ugliness to engage effectively with realms of representation and public display, new sensitivities are needed--sensitivities drawm from the fields of documentary photography, cultural studies, and visual criminology and sociology. Embracing these sensitivities, an emergent criminology of publi display can be imagined, and with it the possibility of investigating the many dimensions of crime and crime control--criminality, criminal events, fear of crime, crime victimization, policing, imprisonment--as meaningful public displays.

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Updated 05/20/2006