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Created: September 25, 2000
Latest update: January 26, 2001
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Constitutive Criminology At Work
Newsmaking Criminology

Review Essay by Jeanne Curran and Susan R. Takata
Part of Peacemaking Identity Series
Copyright: Jeanne Curran and Susan R. Takata, September 2000. "Fair Use" encouraged.

This essay is based on Gregg Barak's "Constituting O.J.: Mass-Mediated Trials and Newsmaking Criminology," Chapter 4 in Henry and Milovanovic's Constitutive Criminology at Work. pp. 87-110.

Gregg Barak discusses what he calls "Newsmaking Criminology." That's an interesting term that shows a theoretical understanding that criminologists and criminal justice professionals do not operate alone in this conundrum of violence and crime and how to control it or cope with it. "Newsmaking criminology" suggests what most of us express at some level, that the media play a major part in our "lived" experience. Barak provides us with a theoretical explanation for what we "sensed" already. This is one of the important roles of theory.

Earlier, in discussing constitutive theory, we spoke of the interdependent and ongoing struggle of agency and structural context. The individual (or group) that has decision-making power affects the structural context within which the agency is exercised. But at the same time the the structural context affects the agency by its normative expectations, by constraints imposed on the agency. In this sense agency and structural context are independent. In "newsmaking criminology" Barak addes another factor to this mix: the agency the media exercise through their control of telling things the way they see them. To the extent that the media adopt the perspective of the dominant discourse, they are effectively complicit in subordinating any resistance to that discourse. To the extent that the media recognize and accept responsibility for their own role in determining the ultimate mix of perspectives on criminal justice, they are transforming the dominant discourse into one that permits resistance to be heard, and resistant validity claims to be considered in good faith.

More soon . . . . jeanne, January 26, 2001