Special topics in media, culture and creative cities – Visual Criminology (Jointly taught with SOCI8008)
This course is not offered for study in the current academic year.
This course will focus on the importance of the visual dimension in traditional themes of criminology inquiry. Four strands will provide the framework for this course: the role of the image within crime, its’ control, the agency and role of visual artists who capture these images and finally the potential of the visual dimension for research of crime.
Different concepts related to crime imagery will be taught and discussed, including the representation of perpetrators and victims, the image as the focus of criminalisation (ie – Danish cartoon of Muhammad), how justice is idealised through imagery such as comics and films (Batman and Judge Dredd etc).
Images are increasingly being used in crime control and criminal justice process. From crime prevention, criminal investigation and policing through to criminal trials, punishment and imprisonment, images have their practical uses and contentions. This includes the role of CCTV, the use of phones and consumer devices to record and stream live incidents and the impact this has on accountability for the criminal justice agencies. There has also been an increase in popularity of shows such as Crimewatch, Police Report, COPS, Traffic Cops, Border Control etc. and these will be explored in terms of representation, appeal and control.
Agency and role on the frontline
Another aspect of the overlap between imagery and crime are the questions about the agency and role of camera operators and other visual artists who are at the front end of the process in dissemination of motion or still imagery. These include war photographers, news photographers, documentary film-makers and more. We ask deeper questions such as is it the camera operator’s responsibility to capture and convey truth or continue victimisation? The ability to distort and amplify a narrative through technical handling of visual tools (angles, light, aesthetics) are issues that will be critically discussed.
The potential to use visual methods to investigate the variables that are contributing to social issues is gaining traction within criminology. Students will learn about how visual methods are employed to reveal subtleties, rich contextual detail and how participants perceive their social world in fields such as ethnography where the notebook and pen or audio recording device have been traditionally employed. Drawing upon the visual anthropology, an appraisal of the arguments for and against visual methods will also be undertaken.
Course learning outcomes
- An ability to understand main criminological and sociological concepts and debates and associated key works.
- Understand the key concepts and debates surrounding surrounding the use of visual methods in criminology and sociology, including how the different methodological approaches have emerged; what research questions they are able to answer; and the strengths and weaknesses of each approach.
- An ability to develop a reasoned argument and to present ideas in a clear and concise manner in oral presentation and in written work.
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