chapter  6
15 Pages

The scene of the crime: Is there such a thing as ‘just looking’?


Crime compels us as well as repels. One of the achievements of the diverse range of scholarship carried out under the heading of cultural criminology has been to establish that crime is not simply something that the community censures. Bound up with disapprobation and distaste for crime is an intense interest in its forms, motivations and impacts. This doubled relation, oscillating between censure and desire, can be called fascination. Cultural criminologists have, for example, investigated the fascination of crime by researching the pleasures of criminal behaviour (most obviously Katz, 1988; Lyng, 2004) and the challenges posed to dominant groups by various subcultural groups (for example, see Miller, 1995; Tunnell, 2004). In this early strand of cultural criminological research, as in interactionism, the emphasis is on the asymmetrical flow of (labelling) power: despite its contention that style has constitutive force not only for criminal subcultures but also for ‘the broader social and legal relations in which these subcultures are caught’ (Ferrell and Sanders, 1995: 5), this variant of cultural criminology has on the whole tended to focus primarily on an accumulation of criminal subcultures, without placing the subcultural subject within a broader discursive sphere in which images of crime and criminality are produced, mediated and consumed.