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Sociological Criminology

Broadening the Analysis of Crime and Punishment

Wrestling with an intellectual heritage, The Criminal Research Network aims to:

  • widen the criminological field and
  • move forward the goal of sociologising criminology.


Expanding the field

Criminal behaviour is traditionally looked upon as deviant and much research relies on this idea of crime and criminals. The Criminology Research Network at Lund University questions a single-minded focus on conventional crimes or officially recognised social problems and their declared solutions.

Document studies, interview studies, narratives and ethnography provide us with rich data from a variety of sites with criminological relevance, e.g. institutional youth care, prisons, courtrooms, policemen’s encounters with criminal youth and treatment settings for men who abuse their female partners.


When it comes to ethnography, researchers within the network have, for instance, “gone along” with policemen in their daily work, with victim supporters and mediation workers in their voluntary activities, and with youth and staff in care settings. In cooperation with professor Abby Peterson at Gothenburg University, today’s multifaceted and often non-governmental policing of ethnicity is investigated with the help of diverse empirical sources and methods.

Several projects investigate the traditional police. In one study, graduate student Daniel Görtz has followed policemen using ethnographic methods, and investigated how ethnicities are integrated in their work and understanding of crime and social control. In another study, Sophia Yakhlef and Goran Basic analyse the cooperation and coordination of border police in several countries around the Baltic Sea.

Youngsters in institutional care have been studied ethnographically, with research focusing on  their school-work, and phenomena such as play-fighting and the construction of “home”. A new project aims at explaining cases of violence within youth care, as well as institutional members’ use of non-violence (David Wästerfors).

Existing research on graffiti has been preoccupied with a tension between the legal and illegal aspect of the subculture, instead of pursuing the 'where,' 'how,' and 'why' of graffiti as defined by graffiti writers themselves. This project takes such issues as its starting point, relating them to how graffiti writers perceive, interpret, and act upon public space as well as the measures taken by the authorities. (Erik Hannertz)

Goran Basic studies stories told by war victims and former detainees in concentration camps in the Bosnian war during the 1990s. Stories of humiliation and power in the camps indicate that there was little space for individuality and preservation of self. Nevertheless, the detainees seem to have been able to generate some room for resistance, and this seems to have granted them a sense of honour and self-esteem, not least after the war.

Several research projects have concerned bribery. In a recent analysis, Malin Åkerström examines the effects of the “bribery gaze” arising from recent anti-corruption efforts in Sweden where the boundary between a gift and a bribe has become perilously vague.

Mediation between criminals and their victims in various settings is studied through field observations and interviews as to the emotional work and interaction dynamics (Anna Rypi and Veronika Burcar).

In subways, squares, parking places, and in shops, the use of cameras to accomplish surveillance of citizens has become common. Lately such control has been supplemented by people using their cellphones to take pictures and film events that they perceive as crime or abuse of power. This trend is investigated by Agneta Mallén.

How do lawyers maneuver in court, with its emotional regime of neutrality and objectivity, while simultaneously being allied with their client? This is the question that Lisa Flower will try to answer in her doctoral thesis.

The Network has a long history of studying crime victims, e.g. masculinity and victimisation, victim support groups, victims that do not fit the expected victim model. The latest study concerns treatment efforts of men who have abused their female partner. In a quantitative as well as qualitative study, Susanne Boethius writes about this in her upcoming dissertation.









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Researchers in the environment

A sample of our latest publications:

  •  “Disputes and Going Concerns in an Institution for ‘Troublesome’ Boys.”Journal of Contemporary Ethnography. 40(1): 39-70, 2011 (David Wästerfors)
  • Suspicious Gifts: Bribery, Morality and Professional Ethics.  Transaction Publishers. 2014. (Malin Åkerström)
  • “Not afraid at all? Dominant and Alternative Interpretive Repertoires in Discourses of the Elderly on Fear of Crime” Journal of Scandinavian Studies in Criminology and Crime Prevention, nr 2, vol 3. (Anna Rypi)
  • “Ethnic monitoring and social control: Descriptions from juveniles in juvenile care institutions”. Nordic Social Work Research. 2014. (Goran Basic)
  •  “It’s Like Piecing Together Small Pieces of a Puzzle”. Difficulties in Reporting Abuse and Neglect of Disabled Children to the Social Services”.  Journal of Scandinavian Studies in Criminology and Crime Prevention. (Agneta Mallén)
  • “Doing masculinity in narratives about reporting violent crime: young male victims talk about contacting and encountering the police.” Journal of Youth Studies 16 (2):172-190. 2013. (Veronika Burcar)
  • There is one on-line course in criminology and a Bachelor’s degree program (BA) given together with the Department of Sociology of Law.
  • Funding for various research projects and programs has been provided by:
  • The Swedish Science Foundation, Riksbanken, FORTE, The Crime Victim Foundation, EU, The National Board of Institutional Care, Region Skåne, and others.

Department of Sociology
Lund University
Visiting address: Paradisgatan 5, House G, Lund
Postal address: Box 114 , SE-221 00 LUND, SWEDEN
Telephone: Student Office +46 46-222 88 44, Lund University Switchboard +46 46-222 00 00

Faculty of Social Sciences