Psychosocial Criminology: An Introduction


David Gadd & Tony Jefferson

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    Preface and Acknowledgements

    Tracing the gestation of any particular project is always somewhat artificial since behind every ‘beginning’ there is always another potential starting point. But, in the case of this book, one that has as strong a claim as any other was the invitation (to TJ), warmly extended by Russell Hogg and Kerry Carrington, to present a paper at the ‘Whither Critical Criminology?’ Conference held at the University of Western Sydney in February 2001. The resulting paper, ‘For a Psychosocial Criminology’ (subsequently published in K. Carrington and R. Hogg (eds) The Future of Critical Criminology, Willan, 2002) provided both a justification and a template for a longer, more developed project. Around the same time, DG inaugurated a new course for final year undergraduates and Masters students called ‘Psychosocial Controversies in Criminology’. This course provided both a theoretical justification for a psychosocial turn in criminology and, using a variety of criminological topics, showed how a psychosocial approach could offer deeper, more incisive understandings. Since then the course has been taught by one or other of us, with slightly different emphases and topics, every semester. The enthusiasm with which our students greeted this course sustained our belief that a book of this kind was a necessary addition to the ever-expanding criminological literature. This, then, constituted another important starting point as it provided the book's central argument and structure.

    This dual starting point, as conference paper and teaching course, is important to stress since it assists in understanding what kind of book this is, namely, a research-based text book. Though few academic books these days are purely research monograph or textbook, most tend to concentrate either on reporting research findings for the benefit of academic scholars or synthesising the field for the benefit of students. Our objective has been to attempt both. So, whatever the particular substantive topic, we offer both critical (albeit truncated) overviews of relevant literatures and a research-based argument why a psychoanalytically informed, psychosocial transformation of the field is imperative. Thus, this is not a book that overviews, textbook fashion, everything psychosocial in the criminological domain. Rather, this is a research-based intervention into the battleground of criminological ideas – making the case for a particular kind of psychosocial turn – that we hope will engage both academic novices and accomplished scholars in equal measure.

    Much of the research upon which this book is based would not have been possible without the generous support of the Economic and Social Research Council. The ESRC funded study (RES-000-23-0171) ‘Context and Motive in the Perpetration of Racially Motivated Violence and Harassment’ contributed directly to the research reported in chapter 8; the data discussed in chapters 5 and 11 was generated in the course of the ESRC funded study (L210252018) ‘Gender Difference, Anxiety and the Fear of Crime’; and (DG's) ESRC funded doctorate, Deconstructing Male Violence (supervised by TJ and defended in January 2001) provided essential materials for Chapter 10.

    If starting points are difficult because there are never pure beginnings, acknowledging debts, intellectual and practical, is a potentially endless task: behind every acknowledged debt is an unpaid one (as anyone who has taken time to return to classic texts will have discovered). However (and with apologies to those inadvertently omitted), we wish to thank: Steve Farrall, for introducing us to the field of criminal careers and desistance over a number of years, as well as feedback on Chapter 5; Shadd Maruna, Amanda Matravers, Mechthild Bereswill, Ankie Neuber, Almut Koesling, Alison Brown, and Loraine Gelsthorpe who all contributed to a session at the BSC Leeds conference in 2005 devoted to rereading the Jack Roller; Eugene McLaughlin and Lynn Chancer for agreeing to devote a whole issue of Theoretical Criminology to publishing the Leeds papers; Lynn Chancer (again) for her thoughtful comments on TJ's article ‘Subordinating hegemonic masculinity’ (published in TC 6(1) 2002) that underpins some of the ideas in chapter 4; The Lifelong Learning Centre at Roskilde University Centre and the International Research Group for Psycho-Societal Analysis for providing interested, thoughtful, informed audiences and hospitable venues, over many years; those who attended the ESRC Methods in Dialogue IV Seminar held at the University of East London in December 2004 where the case material presented in chapter 8 was presented; Phil Cohen, Ben Bowling, Mark Israel and Pnina Werbner who also offered useful comments on our work on racially motivated crime; former and current Keele colleagues for their theoretical curiosity and receptiveness to many of the ideas contained herein; Abby Stein for her enthusiastic reception of TJ's presentation of the book's themes at John Jay College in October 2006; Marian Fitzgerald for her careful comments on an earlier version of chapter 11; Mike Nellis for his knowledgeable responses at several conferences where parts of the book have been presented; Paul Gray and Claire Fox, PhD students with whom DG has worked through an understanding of psychoanalytic texts over several years; Stephen Frosh, Mike Rustin, Kerry Carrington, Russell Hogg and Lynn Froggett for their general enthusiasm, support and encouragement for a psychosocial approach; Bill Dixon, whose involvement in the research on racial violence has continuously proved an invaluable check on our psychoanalytic imaginations; and Wendy Hollway, whose own work, earlier collaborations with TJ, and eagle-eyed comments on practically everything written by us, both independently and together, has been consistently inspirational and incisive. We e would also like to thank the many people we have interviewed in the course of various research projects whose raw data we have drawn upon so extensively to make our psychosocial argument. Without our research subjects' willingness to share their sometimes painful, often touching, stories, the case for a psychosocial criminology would be much less compelling than the one set out on the pages that follow. Finally, we need to acknowledge that we alone are responsible for any errors, be they of judgement, interpretation or fact.

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