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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 has been investigated with the help of diverse empirical sources and methods.


Our current research

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 Hannerz)

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).

Administrative routines such as meetings and documents are studied in welfare organizations. (Erika Andersson Cederholm, Katarina Jacobsson, David Wästerfors, Malin Åkerström) One of these studies concern meetings between patients and representatives of a division of psychiatric care. (Vesa Leppänen) 

Stories told by war victims and former detainees in concentration camps in the Bosnian war during the 1990s have been investigated. 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. (Goran Basic)

The traditional police are investigated in several projects. In one study Daniel Görtz  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 analyses the cooperation and coordination of border police in several countries around the Baltic Sea.

The boundary between a gift and a bribe has been examined by Malin Åkerström. In a recent analysis, she 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 has been 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 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. One of 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 dissertation. Another study in this field concerns a study of the social networks’ responses to domestic violence, and especially what happens when someone calls the police (Boethius, Margareta Hydén and Malin Åkerström)

Another study that concern victims investigates violence among siblings (Veronika Burcar), and the meaning of ethnicity among young men who are victims of assault, robbery, etc are studied by Veronica Burcar, Anna Rypi and Malin Åkerström.

Societal concerns and ways to measure fear of crime is investigated in a quantitative and qualitative study by doctoral student Hanna Sahlin.

The appeal of violent-promoting Islamic extremism is investigated, with a focus on how masculinity and femininity are cornerstone in this “counter-culture”, as attractions in this aestethtic and affective community. (Henriette Esholdt)

As to traditional criminals: Veronika Burcar is studying how young criminals talk about violence, threat, and victimization, and graduate student Oriana Quaglietta is studying female involvement in drug dealing.

Buying sex is a sensitive subject which doctoral student Isabell Johansson studies through talking to men engaged in this practice.









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New programme!

Autumn 2019 the Department of Sociology will be starting an International Master's Programme in Cultural Criminology. Learn more!

A sample of our latest publications:

Researchers in the environment


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