Sociology Publications and Other Works


The Narratives of Offenders

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Although criminologists have long used the offender's own story to shed light on crime and its possible causes, they have not plumbed its potential as an explanatory variable. This article considers the way narrative has been conceptualized in criminology and the way that it might be re-conceptualized, following scholarship in other social sciences and in humanities, as a key instigator of action. The concept of narrative is useful for the projects of contemporary criminology because it: (1) applies to both individuals and aggregates; (2) applies to both direct perpetrators and bystanders; (3) anchors the notion of (sub)culture; (4) circumvents the realism to which other theories of criminal behavior are bound; and (5) can be readily collected by researchers, though not without confronting the problematic that is the socially situated production of discourse.

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