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By Ferrell et al

This e-book brings jointly state of the art study around the variety of meanings of the time period 'cultural'. A landmark textual content at the crime-culture nexus, its editors and authors contain the prime exponents of cultural criminology on each side of the Atlantic.

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As I remarked at the time, in the thick of quantitative research: It goes without saying that such a large unknown population could easily skew every finding we victimologists present. At the most obvious level, it probably includes a disproportionate number of transients, of lower working class people hostile to officials with clipboards attempting to ask them about their lives, and of those who are most frightened to answer the door because of fear of crime. (Young 1988: 169)1 Lewontin’s first point (‘the problem of representativeness’) is, therefore, clear and is as applicable to criminology as it is to sociology.

I listened with fascination to how they factored each of the developments over the period to explain the phenomenon, from changes in the distribution of handguns, the extraordinary prison expansion, zero-tolerance policing, down to changes in crack-culture and technology. At the end of the session they asked for comments from the audience, no doubt expecting some detailed remark about policing levels or the influence of handgun availability, or such like; but the first question, from a Canadian woman, was something of a revelation.

That is, where younger children, having witnessed the devastating effects of hard drugs, gun culture, intensive crime on their older brothers, decide that these things are not for them – they are no longer hip and cool – the culture evolves and turns its face against the past. This observation has ready resonance with, for example, any attempt to understand changes in drug use. These do not seem to relate to changes in social factors or the impact of the war against drugs. They seem to relate to changes in fashion, although this is perhaps too light a word for it – changes in subcultural project would probably be more fitting.

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