1932

Abstract

When ethnographers study street crime, they anticipate that readers might shame them for shaming the poor. One common response is to compromise the quality of ethnographic data. Another is to pass righteous indignation away from the poor by arguing the causal significance of deindustrialization, class inequalities, racial prejudice, policing, colonialism, or hostility toward immigrants. Almost always, such arguments are gratuitous: The evidence for the structural and historical causes offered by ethnographers does not vary with the situational and biographical variations in behavior that make for high-quality ethnographic data. Nevertheless, if we read around the rhetorical practices that contemporary ethnographers of crime use to shift shame away from their subjects and themselves, we learn how street crime is produced through small criminogenic social circles. Considered as a set, recent ethnographies have significantly advanced knowledge about the social psychology of criminality, and they provide promising leads for improving the understanding of variations in crime patterns over time and across metropolitan spaces.

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2019-01-13
2024-04-16
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