Ethnographies of Transgression, Criminal Justice and Law

Dr Jo Deakin, Prof Hilary Pilkington and Dr Geoff Pearson

Ethnography and Ethnographic method has long been association with the study of law-breaking, “deviance”, and the management of non-conformist and “dangerous” groups and sub-cultures by the agencies of the criminal justice system and the organisations that surround them. Ethnographic approaches have been used to gain an understanding of a wide-variety of groups operating outside of what the state considers harmless normality, including gangs, extremist political groups, football ‘hooligans’, drug dealers and users. On the other side of the ‘justice divide’ classic ethnographies (particularly in the United States) have been ground-breaking in their ability to cast light upon police culture and practice, prison staff.

Ethnography has also been helpful in looking further out into the legal system in both criminal law and elsewhere; looking at the relationship between lawyers and their clients, the decision-making of judges, and identifying the gap between legal rhetoric and reality. Finally, legal anthropology has assisted us in comparing the operation of different legal systems and opening our minds to the possibility of genuinely revolutionary reform of our legal systems.

We call for papers that use ethnography or ethnographic methods in the study of groups and sub-cultures that engage in rule- or law-breaking and may be categorised by the state as “deviant” or “dangerous”. We also call for papers using ethnographic approaches to investigate the operation of the criminal justice system and the wider legal system, including police, youth justice, probation and prison officers, judges, lawyers, and care and support workers. We welcome papers from all disciplines including sociology, criminology, law and socio-legal studies, policing studies, social-psychology, anthropology, and organisational studies. Inter-disciplinary and cross-disciplinary papers are also welcome as are those considering methodological, political and ethical problems with using ethnographic methods in this context. We also encourage papers authored or co-authored by practitioners and papers by doctoral students, as well as developing and established academics.

Please submit a 500 word abstract or proposal by Tuesday 28th February 2017 to Decisions on acceptance will be made by 30th March 2017.