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Über dieses Buch

This book explores the links between crime, deviance and popular culture in our highly-mediatised era, offering an insight into the cultural processes through which particular practices acquire a criminal or deviant status, and come to be seen as social problems. Adopting a multidisciplinary approach, the edited collection brings together international scholars across various areas of specialisation to provide an up-to-date analysis of some important and topical issues in 21st-century popular culture. The chapters look at different aspects of popular culture, including fictional detective narratives and the true crime genre, popular media constructions of sexual deviance and Islamophobia, sports, graffiti and outlaw biker subcultures. The authors examine a wide range of relevant case studies through a number of crime and deviance-related theories. Crime, Deviance and Popular Culture will be of importance to scholars and students across several disciplines, including criminology, sociology of deviance, social anthropology, media studies, cultural studies, television studies and linguistics.



1. Introduction: Crime and Deviance through the Lens of Popular Culture

The introductory chapter sets out the collection’s theoretical framework, which favours a view of popular culture as an arena where issues of crime, deviance, criminal victimisation and justice are debated and negotiated. It draws attention to the mediatisation of the crime problem and the increasing academic interest in the interrelationship between crime, deviance and popular culture in the twenty-first century. In addition, this chapter introduces the five thematic sections of the collection and outlines the topics addressed in the chapters of each section.
Dimitris Akrivos, Alexandros K. Antoniou

The Twenty-First-Century Fictional Detective


2. Deviant Detectives in the Scandinavian Welfare State: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Bridge

Stougaard-Nielsen explores how the deviant, female detective in Scandinavian crime fiction is used to engage audiences in considerations of social trust and equality in the contemporary welfare state. Drawing on examples of neurodiverse detectives in Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and the TV serial The Bridge, the chapter focuses on fictional representations of autism and considers the apparent paradox that socially dysfunctional and non-empathetic detectives, such as Lisbeth Salander and Saga Norén, have become globally celebrated as heroines who embody social justice and egalitarianism. Stougaard-Nielsen argues that to understand the appeal of the deviant detective, we need to understand their representation with a more nuanced notion of empathy and in the context of an ethos of statist individualism inherent to the Scandinavian welfare state.
Jakob Stougaard-Nielsen

3. The Representation of Crime and Criminals in the TV Series Sherlock and Elementary: A Corpus Study

The study examines two contemporary crime television series based on the Sherlock Holmes detective stories, namely the British Sherlock and the US Elementary, in order to investigate the representation of crime and criminals through the language of TV shows. Combining two types of linguistic analysis, corpus linguistics and critical discourse analysis, the author quantitatively and qualitatively examines the language of crime in the two series, focusing on the types of crimes and criminals as well as the gender of criminals and victims. The chapter also explores patterns and ideologies that are shaped by media and communicated through language. It shows that the two series follow gender stereotypes in the representation of criminals and address contemporary aspects of crime in their stories such as terrorism and organised crime.
Archontoula Menti

4. Person of Interest or Crime and Surveillance on Post-9/11 Network TV

This chapter examines some of the narrative and ideological aspects of portraying the contemporary surveillance state in a scripted network TV series. The inherent ambiguity of the discourse of surveillance and security is highlighted using selected surveillance studies paradigms. As regards their practical application, references are made to Person of Interest, a show which goes beyond the generic confines of science fiction and crime drama in order to address the anxieties of the post-9/11 world allegedly on the brink of technological singularity. The chapter also discusses human and non-human character development in the series and draws attention to the ways in which the demands of mainstream storytelling may have undermined its subversive potential.
Anna Krawczyk-Łaskarzewska

Negotiating Gender Expectations and Sexual Mores through Popular Culture


5. A Televised Social Problem Construction? Pushing Back Against the Invisibility of the Male Rape Victim in American Crime

Building on the view of popular culture as a conduit through which social problems are defined, debated or even resolved (Maratea & Monahan, Social Problems in Popular Culture. Bristol: Polity Press, 2016), this chapter evaluates the contribution of fictional television to the demarginalisation of the male victim of sexual violence. The research adopts a case study design and offers an ethnographic content analysis of ABC’s American Crime. It highlights the blaming and stigmatisation of the male rape victim, the shortcomings of the dominant feminist framing of sexual victimisation as well as the failure of the criminal justice system to effectively handle male rape cases. The author concludes that ‘socially aware’ TV shows like American Crime could serve as a form of ‘edutainment’: they have the strong potential to push back against dominant male rape myths and offer a better insight into the victims’ experiences, getting audiences much more emotionally involved than pertinent factual sources of information.
Dimitris Akrivos

6. The ‘Cool Girl’ Strikes Back? A Socio-Legal Analysis of Gone Girl

This chapter considers the commercially successful Gone Girl story and its relevance for wider society and law. Focusing on the backlash phenomenon identified by Faludi (Backlash: The Undeclared War Against Women. London: Vintage, 1991), the author examines the relationship between Gone Girl and recent legal and political developments concerning rape law. It is argued that Gone Girl relies on and reinforces many of the problematic aspects of the current treatment of rape in the criminal justice system. However, an alternative exploration of Gone Girl as a nuanced portrayal of natural justice, especially in light of the #MeToo movement and other popular culture developments, is also offered.
Amanda Spalding

7. Neoliberal Enticements, Neoliberal Dangers: An Ethnographic Content Analysis of Everyday Sexuality in Fresh Meat, Greek, and Sweet Vicious

This chapter uses ethnographic content analysis to examine how universities are constructed as sites of neoliberal, everyday sexuality in three comedy dramas all set in universities: Fresh Meat in the UK, and Greek and Sweet/Vicious in the USA. It argues that they largely though not entirely portray controversial and dangerous aspects of everyday sexuality in universities, for example a sexualised audit culture, as existing on a continuum with its enticing aspects, and not as deviant or criminal outliers. Foucauldian neoliberalism provides a conceptual framework to explore this continuum, and two dimensions of it are examined: universities as sexual markets and sexual agency. The mediated nature of contemporary sexuality makes such an analysis important. Ideas are also offered on how to incorporate pop cultural analysis into efforts which combat everyday sexuality’s problematic elements in universities.
Demetris Hadjigeorgiou

True Crime and the Quest for Justice


8. Wrongful Conviction, Pop Culture, and Achieving Justice in the Digital Age

The pop culture success of Serial (podcast) and Making a Murderer (Netflix) have exposed a significant, receptive audience to the true crime genre of entertainment. The producers of these series embraced the transformative effective of digital technologies that have shifted the media landscape by altering audience’s consumption and engagement with content. Digital technologies have also created the opportunities for these audiences to commit to online ‘participatory practices’ supporting the claims of wrongful convictions via social media. This chapter explores how digital media converge with narratives of wrongful conviction to develop public perceptions of miscarriages of justice. By focusing on the relationships between content, audience, and perceptions of justice, a clearer understanding of how notions of justice can be discussed in contemporary popular culture is explored.
Greg Stratton

9. Aftermath: The True Crime Memoir Comes of Age

As the true crime genre has evolved and developed, particularly in the past decade, memoirs written by survivors of violent crime have become more prominent and popular, comprising an important part of the true crime genre. Compared to older, more traditional true crime which was written by journalists or true crime experts such as Ann Rule, Aphrodite Jones, or Jack Olsen, the work of true crime memoirists tends to be more heavily contextualized and often expresses criticism of the genre as a whole. Victims and survivors have strong claims to authenticity, and in their writing, they redefine victimhood and argue for a feminist critique of misogynistic violence as they articulate their experiences of the aftermath of crime. This chapter analyzes Jo Ann Beard’s essay ‘The Fourth State of Matter’, (1996), Terri Jentz’s Strange Piece of Paradise (2006), Maggie Nelson’s The Red Parts (2007), and Sarah Perry’s After the Eclipse (2017).
Jean Murley

Mainstreaming Deviant Subcultures


10. Popular Culture, Populism and the Figure of the ‘Criminal’ On the Rising Popular Support of Outlaw Bikers and Anti-Establishment Resentment

Outlaw motorcycle clubs, especially the iconic Hells Angels, have been a powerful figment of popular culture since the 1950s. Over the decades, they have morphed into strong transnational organizations engaged in their own self-commodification, and have been labelled as organized crime groups posing considerable security threats by law enforcement. This book chapter focuses on how these organizations engage the superimpositions of fact and fiction in order to mobilize new supporters. It attempts to answer the question of why more and more people in Europe align themselves ideologically with the outlaw bikers, support them, and share their anti-establishment resentments—against the ‘weak’ state, ‘official’ media or politicians. Interplays between fact and fiction are one facet of mainstreaming deviant subcultures that can help us understand this phenomenon.
Tereza Kuldova

11. Instagraff—The Influence of Web 2.0, Social Media, and User-Created Content Upon Graffiti Culture Performed in Cyber/Space

Instagraff, graffiti found on the social media website Instagram, examines social and technological advances that have prompted graffiti culture to appear ‘mainstream’. Recognising the birth of Web 2.0 as a key turning point, this study analyses images from social media accounts of graffiti writers, relating them to the works of Goffman (The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. University of Edinburgh and Doubleday, 1959), Burgess (Vernacular Creativity and New Media. Queensland University of Technology, Australia, 2007), and Baudrillard (The Consumer Society. Sage Publications, 1970). Its findings suggest that online representations of graffiti culture are no longer necessarily based upon sensory, deviant, risk-taking associated with urban graffiti. The use of social media by young would-be graffiti writers has created new avenues for the commercialisation of a vibrant, but deviant, subculture. Therefore, graffiti shared on social media cannot be considered a true representation of graffiti subculture, but a procession of simulacra, developing new forms of graffiti culture dislocated from graffiti’s deviant origins.
Nicola Harding

Racialisation, Islamophobia and Popular Culture


12. Portrayals of Middle Eastern Background Communities as Criminal in Australian Popular Media

The popular media plays an important role in staging, describing and interpreting race, ethnicity, culture, class and criminality for the public. This chapter presents a qualitative content analysis of three Australian popular media texts that frame Middle Eastern background communities in Australia as being crime-prone. The texts analysed are The Combination (2009), Underbelly: The Golden Mile (2010) and Down Under (2016). The chapter argues that these texts represent Middle Eastern background communities as having proclivities for gang membership and firearms-related violence, and as displaying disregard for police and the rule of law. As such, this chapter complements and extends the body of literature that has considered the racialised framing of Middle Eastern background communities as crime-prone in Australian news reporting since the 1990s.
Megan McElhone

13. Modern Sports as a Deviant Practice? How Not to Play Sports According to the Islamic Online Fatâwâ

Sport is the subject of numerous research inquiries in relation to Muslim youth and can be a tool to promote their social integration within Western societies (Testa & Amara, Sport in Islam and in Muslim Communities. Routledge, 2015). However, when the ‘deviant’ side of sport is investigated, it is often in relation to rule-breaking, violence or social control (Atkinson & Young, Deviance and Social Control in Sport. Human Kinetics, 2008). Very few studies have focused on modern sport as a form of deviant practice in relation to religion. This chapter aims to investigate how modern sport can be framed as a deviant practice and which, if any, principle in Islam can be used to define modern sport as a deviant activity for its believers.
Alberto Testa

14. Conclusion: Popular Criminology Revisited

The concluding chapter discusses the significance of popular criminology, revisiting the key issues addressed in the different chapters of the book. It highlights the diversity of contemporary crime-and-deviance-related popular culture and provides an outlook for future research in the field.
Dimitris Akrivos, Alexandros K. Antoniou


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