Public Criminology and Media Debates Over Policing

Studies in Social Justice 16 (1):227-244 (2022)
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Public criminology is concerned with public understandings of crime and policing and public discussions of such matters by criminologists and allied social scientists. For the purposes of this paper, these professionals are individuals identified by journalists on the basis of academic credentials or university affiliation as those who can speak to crime matters. This qualitative study investigates media statements made by criminologists and allied social scientists following the 2020 murder of George Floyd with two questions in mind: How have they responded to debates over reforming, defunding, and abolishing police? What insight can these responses provide about public criminology more generally? I analyze statements offered by criminologists in news reports and on Twitter using Qualitative Media Analysis, an approach that emphasizes the processes through which discourse is presented to audiences. I argue that recent criminological debates in the media concerning the future of policing have exposed unresolvable tensions among scholars who engage in the practice of public criminology, suggesting that the public is not receiving coherent, authoritative messages about these issues. The findings also raise questions about public criminology and illuminate new concerns regarding scholarly expertise related to knowledge claims and credibility relative to social justice.



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Knowledge for What?Robert S. Lynd - 1941 - Philosophical Review 50 (3):323-325.

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