Finding a Political Voice

The Emergence of Critical Criminology in Britain

Authored by: Jayne Mooney

Routledge Handbook of Critical Criminology

Print publication date:  October  2011
Online publication date:  October  2011

Print ISBN: 9780415779678
eBook ISBN: 9780203864326
Adobe ISBN: 9781135192808


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In the middle of the 1960s, there were a number of young sociologists in Britain attracted to the then wholly American field in the sociology of deviance. The ideas in such works as Becker’s Outsiders and Matza’s Delinquency and Drift seemed to make sense across a whole range of teaching and research interests, particularly in ‘marginal’ areas such as drugs, sexual deviance, youth culture and mental illness. Official criminology was regarded with attitudes ranging from ideological condemnation to a certain measure of boredom. But being a sociologist – often isolated in a small department – was not enough to get away from criminology: some sort of separate subculture had to be carved out within the sociological world. So, ostensibly for these reasons (although this account sounds suspiciously like colour-supplement history), seven of us met in July 1968, fittingly enough in Cambridge in the middle of the Third National Conference of Teaching and Research, organised by the Institute [of Criminology] and opened by the Home Secretary. We decided to form a group to provide some sort of intellectual support for each other to cope with collective problems of identity.

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