Journal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture Copyright © 1995 Journal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture
All rights reserved.
ISSN 1070-8286

Journal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture, 3(2) (1995) 25-42

Culture,Crime, and Cultural Criminology

Jeff Ferrell
Regis University
Department of Sociology

This essay explores the common ground between cultural and criminal practices in contemporary social life -- that is, between collective behavior organized around imagery, style, and symbolic meaning, and that categorized by legal and political authorities as criminal. As we will see, various intersections of culture and crime have defined the evolution of public controversies past and present, and increasingly shape the experience and perception of everyday life. Zoot suiters and gangbangers, Robert Mapplethorpe and rap music, mediated muggings and televised anti-crime campaigns -- all demonstrate that cultural and criminal processes continually interweave along a continuum of marginality, illegality, and public display.

The many contemporary confluences of cultural and criminal dynamics force us to reconsider traditionally discrete categories of "culture" and "crime" in our research and analysis. Many social groups and events traditionally conceptualized as "criminal" are in fact defined in their everyday operations by subcultural meaning and style. At the same time, various groups and events conventionally placed under the heading of "culture" regularly suffer criminalization at the hands of moral entrepreneurs, legal and political authorities, and others.[1] Further, the criminalization campaigns launched against various subcultures and subcultural activities themselves operate not only by constructing legal statutes and enforcement procedures, but by deploying mediated symbols and mobilizing powerful cultural references. To account for the culture and subcultures of crime, the criminalization of cultural and subcultural activities, and the politics of these processes, then, we must move toward an integration of cultural and criminological analysis -- that is, toward a cultural criminology. [End page 25]

Crime as Culture

Anyway, I got in a lot of trouble with the police over the motorsickles and my involvement with gangs.... So the people that interested me were the real hardened criminals, who were always dragging me into trouble. But they had style.

artist Robt. Williams [2]

Criminal behavior is, more often than not, subcultural behavior. From the interactionist criminology of the Chicago School and Edwin Sutherland to the subcultural theories of Cohen, Cloward and Ohlin, and others, criminologists have long acknowledged that actions and identities labelled "criminal" are typically generated within the boundaries of deviant and criminal subcultures.[3] In this sense, much of what we take to be crime is essentially collective behavior; whether carried out by one person or many, particular criminal acts are often organized within and instigated by subcultural groups. Though the boundaries may remain ill-defined, and the membership may shift in gross numbers and level of commitment, these subcultures constitute definitive human associations for those who participate in them. Biker, hustler, Blood and Crip, pimp and prostitute -- all name subcultural networks as much as individual identities.

As Sutherland and the Chicago School knew a half century ago, and as innumerable case studies have since confirmed, criminal subcultures incorporate far more than simple proximities of personal association. To speak of a criminal subculture is to recognize not only an association of people, but a network of symbols, meaning, and knowledge. Members of a criminal subculture learn and negotiate "motives, drives, rationalizations, and attitudes;" develop elaborate conventions of language, appearance, and presentation of self; and in so doing participate, to greater or lesser degrees, in a subculture, a collective way of life.[4]

Much of this subcultural meaning, action, identity, and status is organized around style -- that is, around the shared aesthetic of the subculture's members. As earlier researchers have found, subtleties of collective style define the meaning of crime and [End page 26] deviance for subcultural participants, agents of legal control, consumers of mediated crime images, and others.[5] If we are to understand both the terror and the appeal of skinheads, Bloods and Crips, graffiti "writers," zoot suiters, rude boys, drug users, and others, we must be able to make sense not only of their criminal acts, but of their collective aesthetics as well.

Katz's research, for example, has linked criminal acts and aesthetics by examining the styles and symbolic meanings which emerge inside the everyday dynamics of criminal events and criminal subcultures.[6] By paying attention to dark sunglasses and white undershirts, to precise styles of walking, talking, and otherwise presenting one's criminal identity, Katz has sketched the "alternative deviant culture," the "coherent deviant <a>esthetic" in which badasses, cholos, punks, youth gang members, and others participate.[7] In these cases, as in other forms of crime on and off the street, the meaning of criminality is anchored in the style of its collective practice. The biker's ritually reconstructed motorcycle, the gang member's sports clothing and tattoos, the graffiti writer's mysterious street images, and the skinhead's violently provocative music constitute the essential cultural and subcultural materials out of which criminal projects and criminal identities are constructed and displayed. Once again, participation in a criminal subculture, or in the "culture of crime," means participation in the symbolism and style, the collective aesthetic environment, of criminality.[8]

From early work within the British cultural studies tradition to Katz and other contemporary criminologists, research has shown that symbolism and style not only shape criminal subcultures, but intertwine with the broader social and legal relations in which these subcultures are caught.[9] Criminal subcultures and their styles both grow out of class, age, gender, ethnic, and legal inequalities, and by turns reproduce and resist these social fault lines.[10] And this interplay of subcultural style, inequality, and authority in turn reminds us of Becker's classic criminological injunction, that we must examine not only criminal subcultures, but the legal and political authorities who construct these subcultures as criminal.[11] When we do, we find these authorities both reacting to subcultural styles, and themselves employing symbolic and stylistic strategies of their own against them. The criminalization efforts of legal and political campaigners display again the [End page 27] power of cultural forces; in criminalizing cultural and subcultural activities, and campaigning for public support, moral entrepreneurs and legal authorities manipulate legal and political structures, but perhaps more so structures of mass symbolism and perception.

To understand the reality of crime and criminalization, then, a cultural criminology must account not only for the dynamics of criminal subcultures, but for the dynamics of the mass media as well. Today, mediated images of crime and criminal violence wash over us in wave after wave, and in so doing help shape public perceptions and policies in regard to crime. But of course these contemporary cases build on earlier mediated constructions of crime and control. The criminalization of marijuana in the United States a half century ago was predicated on "an effort to arouse the public to the danger confronting it by means of `an educational campaign describing the drug, its identification, and evil effects.'"[12] Aggressive mob behavior and police assaults on zoot suiters in the 1940s were "preceded by the development of an unambiguously unfavorable symbol" in Los Angeles newspapers.[13] In the mid-1960s, lurid media accounts of rape and assault set the context for a legal campaign against the Hell's Angels; and at almost the same time, legal attacks on British mods and rockers were legitimated through the media's deployment of "emotive symbols."[14] In the 1970s, the "reciprocal relations" between the British mass media and criminal justice system produced a perception that mugging was "a frightening new strain of crime."[15] And during the 1980s and early 1990s, mediated horror stories legitimated "wars" on drugs, gangs, and graffiti in the United States, and produced moments of mediated "moral panic" over child abuse and child pornography in Great Britain.[16]

Clearly, then, both the everyday collective practice of criminality and the criminalization of everyday life by the powerful are cultural enterprises and must be investigated as such. That being the case, criminological research and analysis must incorporate an understanding of media, language, symbolism, and style -- that is, an appreciation of cultural processes and subcultural dynamics. Put more simply: making sense of crime and criminalization means paying attention to culture. [End page 28]

Culture as Crime

Further, Mapplethorpe's controversial Honey, 1976 is said to portray a nude child "just as thousands of other child molesters/pornographers before and after him.... The photo advertises the availability of the child (and, by extension, all children) for photographic assault and rape."

Richard Bolton, quoting a Washington Times editorial [17]

In the same way that everyday crime and criminalization operate as cultural enterprises, everyday popular cultural undertakings -- those social activities organized around art, music, and fashion -- are regularly recast a crime. Certainly much in the worlds of art, music, and fashion gets caught up in controversies over "good taste," public decency, and the alleged influences of popular culture. In some cases, the producers of art or music themselves stoke these controversies in order to promote consumption of their cultural commodities; in other cases, right-wing interest groups, religious fundamentalist, and others promote these cultural conflicts as part of their theo- political agendas. Frequently, these two dynamics intertwine in ironic, symbiotic relationships of mutual amplification. Of interest here, though, are the many cases in which such conflicts promote not only controversy, but also reconstruct cultural production, distribution, and consumption as both criminal and criminogenic.

The recent history of Western popular music provides an ongoing array of such cases. The emergence of punk music in Great Britain during the 1970s, for example, incorporated both controversy and criminalization. When London underground designer and shop owner Malcolm McLaren recruited singer John Lydon (Johnny Rotten) and helped organize the definitive punk band -- the Sex Pistols -- he was also assembling an intentionally confrontational and disturbing style. Drawing on the violently confused imagery of sadomasochism, bondage, fascism, and anarchy, McLaren, Lydon, and the Sex Pistols produced a perhaps predictable public reaction. The British media condemned the band, and the larger punk movement, as violent threats to British society; and British politicians raged against this perceived threat to civil order and morality. The Sex Pistols -- who [End page 29] themselves each carried prior criminal records -- now came under violent attack (stabbings, beatings), and were forced to hire body guards and to begin playing club dates under assumed names. In addition, British authorities ruled the band's promotional displays to be obscene; local authorities prosecuted record shops carrying Sex Pistols albums and related materials; and legal authorities fined the head of the Sex Pistols' record company at the time, Virgin Records, for violating obscenity statutes. Subsequently, U.S. customs officials delayed a U.S. tour by denying the Sex Pistols entry visas, purportedly because of their criminal records; and throughout the 1980s, British police continued to raid record shops and confiscate "obscene" punk and alternative records.[18]

Contemporary popular music controversies in the United States mirror the British punk experience. During the early 1990s, for example, Florida's governor urged the state prosecutor to indict the Black rap group 2 Live Crew under racketeering statutes. Failing this, a local sheriff took the band to civil court over obscenity charges, sent his deputies and other undercover officers into record shops, and ultimately arrested Black record shop owner Charles Freeman on obscenity charges. (Freeman was subsequently convicted of obscenity by an all-white jury.) Florida authorities also conducted a highly-publicized arrest of 2 Live Crew's members on obscenity charges following a live performance by the band.[19]

Meanwhile, back in the United Kingdom, legal authorities confiscated 24,000 copies of an album by rap group N.W.A.; and in the U. S., Nebraska authorities clamped down on five businesses for selling rap music.[20] Local, state, and national associations of police officers -- with the support of then Vice President Dan Quayle and others -- attempted to interrupt both distribution and performances of rapper Ice-T's song "Cop Killer," arguing in the mass media that "the publication of such vile trash is unconscionable. This song does nothing but arouse the passions of the criminal element...."[21] Virginia authorities responded by arresting a record store owner for selling Ice-T's album "Body Count," and large record-store chains followed suit by removing the album from their shelves.[22]

But if the "low culture" worlds of punk and rap have not escaped criminalization, neither have the "high culture" echelons of gallery and museum art. During 1990, San Francisco police and the FBI raided [End page 30] the studio of Jock Sturges, a photographer whose works hang in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and other acclaimed galleries and museums. Police also seized Sturges' associate Joe Semien, interrogating him for two days before his release. On the basis of a series of casual photographs that Sturges had taken of friends while on a nude beach in France, federal prosecutors accused both men of involvement with child pornography.[23]

In Cincinnati, the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) faced similar legal problems in relation to an exhibit of (gay) photographer Robert Mapplethorpe's works. Anticipating such problems, CAC restricted admissions to the exhibit, developed voluntary disclaimers, and even filed a preemptive lawsuit requesting legal protection. Nonetheless, a local grand jury indicted CAC and its director Dennis Barrie on charges of "pandering obscenity and for the use of a minor in materials related to the nude." Though a county court jury later found Barrie and the CAC not guilty, a number of similar cases have emerged, and have been publicized, in the United States over the past few years.[24]

From punk and rap to fine art photography, these cases embody not only the criminalization of popular culture, but the politics of culture and the dynamics of the mass media as well. Significantly, the criminalization of popular culture is both a politicized attack on particular media forms like popular music, and itself a form of media. Like those who work publicly to criminalize the lives of drug users, zoot suiters, and bikers, those who campaign to criminalize the worlds of music and art do so by mobilizing powerful cultural resources in the construction of mediated morality plays. When Jesse Helms and Patrick Buchanan publicly declare "cultural war" on the National Endowment for the Arts and gay and lesbian artists; when Tipper Gore and her Parents' Music Resource Center, and the Rev. Donald Wildmon and his American Family Association (AFA), decry the criminogenic effects of "obscene" words and images; when Cincinnati's Citizens for Community Values, and local sheriffs and politicians, attempt to outlaw alternative art and music, all employ their political and media networks to disseminate select images and precise cultural references.[25]

In this new cultural context, popular music becomes an obscene and seditious catalyst for youthful disobedience and social decay; and visual art is[End page 31] transformed into a lascivious crime against social decency, a kind of high-toned pornography. Thus in the Cincinnati case, for example, Citizens for Community Values mailed almost 18,000 letters to "Cincinnati leaders" -- letters which called for "action to prevent this pornographic art from being shown in our city."[26] The Washington Times argued that Mapplethorpe portrayed nude children "just as thousands of other child molesters/pornographers before and after him...." And more generally, Wildmon's AFA continues to utilize an annual budget of $5 million to print in national newspapers full-page advertisements alleging the criminogenic influence of popular music and television, and to send its newsletter to 400,000 subscribers.[27]

Not surprisingly, these criminalization campaigns, like those seen previously, disproportionately target ethnic minorities, gays and lesbians, young people, and other outsiders. It is certainly no accident that, historically, marijuana users, Black and Latino/Latina zoot suiters and gang members, and working class bikers in the United States and Great Britain have been the focus of highly publicized criminalization campaigns; and it is no accident that, among all the varieties of contemporary artistic and musical production, radical punk bands, Black rap groups, and gay visual artists have been most aggressively recast as criminals. In all these cases, the marginality of these groups -- and the audacious styles through which they celebrate and confront their marginality -- threaten the caretakers of moral and legal control.[28]

Clearly, both the collective production of art and music, and the mediated responses to cultural production by legal and moral authorities, incorporate the ongoing politics of crime, criminalization, and legal control. That being the case, research into art, music, and culture must incorporate a critical understanding of mediated criminalization campaigns, legal procedures, and even criminological theory. Put more simply: making sense of culture means paying attention to crime and criminalization.

Collisions of Culture and Crime: Toward a Cultural Criminology So far we have examined three broad categories of social and cultural experience: criminal identities and events that incorporate dimensions of cultural meaning[End page 32] and style, artistic and musical worlds caught up in the dynamics of crime and criminalization, and the mediated processes by which both subcultural and popular cultural worlds are criminalized. But precisely where are the boundaries between these categories of everyday life? What, for example, of the elegant, elaborate manifestations of Latino/Latina street life? The stylishly criminal zoot suiters of the 1940s, the hand crafted low riders of today whose slow cruising attracts the attention of both pedestrians and police - - are these manifestations of ethnic heritage and ethnic inequality primarily cultural or criminal? And what of the Sex Pistols? Are they best understood as convicted criminals or cutting-edge musicians, as purveyors of obscenity or performance artists? Answers to these questions are, of course, as ambiguous as are the boundaries between culture and crime -- boundaries which are in turn shaped and blurred by the power and prestige of those involved. When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1991 to uphold a legal ban on nude barroom dancing, for example, it stressed that nude dancing in other cultural contexts -- like "an opera at Lincoln Center" -- would not be banned, but protected as art.[29]

These sorts of politically charged confusions of culture and crime pervade contemporary social life, and thus demonstrate time and again the need for a critical cultural criminology. Those caught up in the daily mix of culture and crime -- bikers, street gang members, and artists, but as much so legal authorities, media crusaders, and media consumers -- interact inside the ambiguous intersections of symbolic production, situated meaning, and criminality. In so doing, these social actors and actresses experience culture and crime not as categorical abstractions, nor as distinct arenas of social existence, but as emergent processes twisted together in the texture of everyday life. If we are to make sense of their experiences, then, we as criminologists must also move beyond the duality of "culture" and "crime" to examine the many ways in which culture and crime not only collide, but co-produce one another.

As this brief essay already demonstrates, a number of fundamental themes run through this integration of cultural and criminological concerns. First is the essential role of the media in shaping the intersections of culture and crime. It is not simply that the mass media report in certain ways on criminal events, or provide fashionable fodder out of which criminal subcultures construct collective styles. For[End page 33] good or bad, postmodern society exists well beyond such discrete, linear patterns of action and reaction. Rather, criminal events, identities, and styles take life within a media-saturated environment, and thus exist from the start as moments in a mediated spiral of presentation and representation. Criminal events and public perceptions of criminality are reported on by the media less than they are constructed within the media; their existence is inevitably confirmed more by ratings points than by rates of crime. Criminal subcultures in turn reinvent mediated images as situated styles, but are at the same time themselves reinvented time and again as they are displayed within the daily swarm of mediated presentations. In every case, as cultural criminologists, we study not only images, but images of images, an infinite hall of mediated mirrors.

This notion of collective imagery, and the collective production of shared symbolism and meaning, points to a second theme woven into cultural criminology: style. As artists and musicians run afoul of obscenity statutes and those that choose to enforce them, as street cops find fault with the sagging pants or shaved heads of gang members, they collectively engage in "crimes of style" -- crimes which reveal the power of shared styles in constructing not only criminal identity, but legal authority and the boundaries of social control.[30] This essay perhaps begins to demonstrate the importance of style in the evolution of criminal and subcultural identities. But when legal authorities, moral crusaders, and others push for new legal sanctions and more aggressive enforcement to deal with these identities, their perceptions and responses are shaped by their own stylistic imperatives as well. Legal and moral authorities operate within an "aesthetics of authority;" from inside a set of aesthetic assumptions and legal controls that define the beauty and desirability of "decent" public art, "clean" cities, and "appropriate" personal style, these authorities condemn and criminalize controversial art, street graffiti, homeless populations, and "tough looking" kids.[31] And they do so not only because these identities and styles threaten legal or moral control as such, but because they undermine the stylistic certainty and aesthetic precision essential to the broader functioning of legal authority and social control. In this process of condemnation and criminalization, as we have seen, authorities are moreover able to mobilize their own powerful stylistic resources to reshape the public meaning of tough kids[End page 34] or disputed art. Style in this sense constitutes the turf over which young punks and old authorities, street corner toughs and street-wise cops, alternative artists and anti-obscenity campaigners battle. And as they engage in these aesthetic turf wars, the combatants continually negotiate the boundaries of culture and crime.

To speak of "turf wars" is of course to point to a third theme sewn into the fabric of cultural criminology: the need to take into account power, conflict, subordination, and insubordination, and thus to develop a critical cultural criminology. Contemporary controversies demonstrate that the connections between culture and crime are regularly crafted out of social inequality. As we have already seen, powerful political-economic, legal, religious, and media forces shape the campaigns to criminalize popular culture and particular subcultures, and direct these campaigns at outsiders of all sorts. These outsiders -- whether gang members, punk musicians, or gallery artists -- in turn construct and reconstruct alternative subcultures and styles that provide collective identity and demonstrate resistance to the very powers that criminalize them.[32] And as these powers then respond to such displays of resistance, they in many cases set up a spiral of amplified criminalization, and in others a dynamic by which such displays come eventually to be coopted and commodified.[33] Subordination and insubordination define the interplay between culture and crime; and it is through this interplay that power is both enforced and resisted.

This critical focus on the complex interplay of power, inequality, and insubordination also means that cultural criminologists must pay close attention to the particular characteristics of authorities and outsiders alike. Young people, and especially minority youth, for example, find themselves regularly entangled in the intersections of culture and crime. Punk and rap musicians, graffiti writers, badasses and gang members -- most come from backgrounds of ethnic discrimination and poverty, and most all are young. This correlation between youth, culture, and crime points us down two related lines of inquiry. First, we must investigate youth cultures as primary settings for the production of alternative style and meaning, and therefore as the primary targets of legal, political, and moral authorities threatened by the audacity of these cultural alternatives. Second, and more generally, we must critically explore youth as a[End page 35] category of social, cultural, and criminal stratification intertwined with the more established stratification categories of social class, ethnicity, and gender.[34]

The development of the sort of cultural criminology imagined here -- a criminology which accounts for subcultural styles, media dynamics, aesthetic orientations, social and cultural inequalities, and more -- will necessitate journeys beyond the conventional boundaries of contemporary criminology. If we are to examine the many intersections of culture and crime, we will need a variety of analytic and methodological resources. This will likely involve either resurrecting or reinventing a number of theoretical strands within criminology -- labelling/interactionist theories, critical theories, and newer constitutive and newsmaking criminologies, for example -- and at the same time drawing on exterior fields of inquiry like cultural studies and the sociology of culture.[35]

This movement beyond disciplinary frontiers, this synthesis of divergent intellectual perspectives, this focus on situated cultural dynamics -- all point to possibilities not only for a critical cultural criminology, but a sort of postmodern cultural criminology as well. Contemporary social, feminist, and cultural theories are increasingly moving beyond disciplinary constraints and discrete categories to create synthetic, postmodern perspectives on social and cultural life. Though marked by their eclectic and divergent components, these perspectives share some general ideas, among them the notion that the everyday culture of individuals and groups incorporates powerful and conflicting dimensions of style and meaning. The symbolism and style of social interaction -- the culture of everyday life -- in this way forms a contested political terrain, embodying patterns of inequality, power, and privilege. And these patterns are in turn intertwined with larger structures of mediated information and entertainment, cultural production and consumption, and legal and political authority. As the sort of cultural criminology outlined here develops, it can integrate criminology into these synthetic lines of situated inquiry now emerging under broad headings like "postmodernism" and "cultural studies."

Cultural criminology thus provides criminologists the opportunity to enhance their own perspectives on crime with insights from other fields, while at the same time providing for their colleagues in cultural [End page 36] studies, the sociology of culture, media studies, and elsewhere invaluable perspectives on crime, criminalization, and their relationship to cultural and political processes. Bending or breaking the boundaries of criminology in order to construct a cultural criminology in this sense undermines contemporary criminology less than it expands and enlivens it. Cultural criminology widens criminology's domain to include worlds conventionally considered exterior to it: gallery art, popular music, media operations and texts, style. In the same way, it introduces criminology into contemporary debates over these worlds, and defines criminological perspectives as essential to them. The specific relationships between culture and crime, and the broader relationship between criminology and contemporary social and cultural life, are both illuminated within cultural criminology.


1. Howard S. Becker, Outsiders: Studies in the Sociology of Deviance (New York: Free Press, 1963), Chapter Eight.

2. Quoted in Michelle Delio, "Robt. Williams: Esthetician of the Preposterous," Art?Alternatives 1 (April 1992), p. 45.

3. Edwin Sutherland and Donald Cressey, Criminology, 10th ed. (Philadelphia: Lippencott, 1978); Albert Cohen, Delinquent Boys: The Culture of the Gang (New York: The Free Press, 1955); Richard Cloward and Lloyd Ohlin, Delinquency and Opportunity: A Theory of Delinquent Gangs (New York: The Free Press, 1960); see Walter Miller, "Lower Class Culture as a Generating Milieu of Gang Delinquency," Journal of Social Issues 14 (1958), pp. 5-19; Marvin E. Wolfgang and Franco Ferracuti, The Subculture of Violence (Beverly Hills: Sage, 1982); Lynn Curtis, Violence, Race, and Culture (Lexington, MA: Heath, 1975).

4. Sutherland and Cressey, Criminology, p. 80. Of course, social learning, strain, and other criminological theories also incorporate various perspectives on the cultures and subcultures of crime. And see similarly Jeff Ferrell, "The Brotherhood of Timber Workers and the Culture of Conflict," Journal of Folklore Research 28 (1991), pp. 163-177, for an application of this argument to labor and union subcultures. [End page 37]

5. Among earlier works, see for example Harold Finestone, "Cats, Kicks, and Color," in Howard S. Becker, ed., The Other Side: Perspectives on Deviance (New York: The Free Press, 1964), pp. 281-297; Stuart Hall and Tony Jefferson, eds., Resistance Through Rituals (London: Hutchinson, 1976); Dick Hebdige, Subculture: The Meaning of Style (London: Methuen, 1979); Stuart Cosgrove, "The Zoot-Suit and Style Warfare," Radical America 18 (1984), pp. 38-51. See also William Sanders, Gangbangs and Drive-bys: Grounded Culture and Juvenile Gang Violence (Hawthorne, NY: Aldine de Gruyter, 1994). And for more on criminal subcultures, legal control, and style, see Jeff Ferrell, "Style Matters," in Jeff Ferrell and Clinton R. Sanders, eds., Cultural Criminology (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1995, forthcoming).

6. Jack Katz, Seductions of Crime: Moral and Sensual Attractions in Doing Evil (New York: Basic Books, 1988). 7. Katz, Seductions, p. 90. 8. See Jeff Ferrell, "Making Sense of Crime," Social Justice 19 (1992), pp. 110-123; Jeff Ferrell, Crimes of Style: Urban Graffiti and the Politics of Criminality (New York: Garland, 1993); Jeff Ferrell and Clinton R. Sanders, Cultural Criminology (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1995, forthcoming).

9. Among early British cultural studies works, see for example Hall and Jefferson, Resistance; Paul Willis, Learning to Labor (New York: Columbia University Press, 1977); Hebdige, Subculture. See also Neil Nehring, Flowers in the Dustbin: Culture, Anarchy, and Postwar England (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1993). For contemporary criminological perspectives, see Ferrell and Sanders, Cultural Criminology.

10. See Ferrell, "Style Matters."

11. Becker, Outsiders, p. 163.

12. Becker, Outsiders, p. 140. [End page 38]

13. Ralph H. Turner and Samuel Surace, "Zoot-Suiters and Mexicans: Symbols in Crowd Behavior," American Journal of Sociology 62 (1956), pp. 14-20.

14. Hunter S. Thompson, Hell's Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga (New York: Ballantine, 1967); Stanley Cohen, Folk Devils and Moral Panics (London: MacGibbon and Kee, 1972), pp. 31, 54.

15. Stuart Hall, Chas Critcher, Tony Jefferson, John Clarke, and Brian Roberts, Policing the Crisis: Mugging, the State, and Law and Order (London: MacMillan, 1978), pp. 74, 71.

16. See for example Cohen, Folk Devils; Simon Watney, Policing Desire: Pornography, AIDS, and the Media (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987); Philip Jenkins, Intimate Enemies: Moral Panics in Contemporary Great Britain (Hawthorne, NY: Aldine de Gruyter, 1992); Victor Kappeler, Mark Blumberg, and Gary Potter, The Mythology of Crime and Criminal Justice (Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland, 1993); Philip Jenkins, Using Murder: The Social Construction of Serial Homicide (Hawthorne, NY: Aldine de Gruyter, 1994); Philip Jenkins, "`The Ice Age': The Social Construction of a Drug Panic," Justice Quarterly 11 (1994), pp. 7-31; Erich Goode and Nachman Ben-Yehuda, Moral Panics (Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1994); Ferrell and Sanders, Cultural Criminology. Interestingly, an examination of the "drug courier profiles" incorporated in the U.S. war on drugs indicates that these profiles target alleged "couriers" as much on the basis of personal style as ethnicity -- and that, in many cases, they target personal style as a lived manifestation of ethnicity; see Ferrell, "Style Matters."

17. Richard Bolton, "The cultural contradictions of conservatism," New Art Examiner 17 (June 1990), pp. 24-29, 72.

18. See Tricia Henry, Break All Rules! Punk Rock and the Making of a Style (Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1989); Hebdige, Subculture; Catherine McDermott, Street Style: British Design in the 80s (New York: Rizzoli, 1987); David Holden, "Pop go the censors," Index on Censorship 22 (1993), pp. 11-14; Nehring, Flowers. [End page 39]

19. See Entertainment Weekly, "Do the Rights Thing" (March 30, 1990), pp. 38-39; Holden, "Pop"; Associated Press, "Shop owner takes rap on rap album," Rocky Mountain News (October 4, 1990), p. 2; Gene Santoro, "How 2 B Nasty," The Nation 251 (July 2, 1990), pp. 4-5. Perhaps significantly, Steven Dubin, Arresting Images: Impolitic Art and Uncivil Actions (London: Routledge, 1992), p. 10, reports that an assistant state attorney involved in prosecuting the 2 Live Crew case was upset that a retired sociology professor was included on the jury!

20. See Adam Dawtrey and Jeffrey Jolson-Colburn, "Scotland Yard confiscates rap album," Rocky Mountain News (The Hollywood Reporter) (June 7, 1991), p. 111; American Civil Liberties Union, "The Arts Censorship Project" (pamphlet) (New York: ACLU, 1992).

21. Rocky Mountain News, "Police look to stop `Cop Killer'" (June 18, 1992), p. 86; see Mark S. Hamm and Jeff Ferrell, "Rap, Cops, and Crime: Clarifying the `Cop Killer' Controversy," ACJS Today 13 (1994), pp. 1, 3, 29.

22. See Arts Censorship Project Newsletter, "Attacks on Rap Music Continue as Paris and ACLU Launch Affirmative Free-Music Campaign" (New York: ACLU, Winter 1993), p. 4. Punk musician Jello Biafra and his Alternative Tentacles label, rocker Ozzy Osbourne, singer Bobby Brown, and numerous other popular musicians have also recently come under legal attack; and mediated campaigns have increasingly laid criminogenic blame on rap music, film and television images, and other popular cultural forms. For more on these and related issues, see Jeff Ferrell, "Criminalizing Popular Culture," in Donna Hale and Frankie Bailey, eds., Criminal Justice and Popular Culture (forthcoming).

23. See Bruce Shapiro, "The Art Cops," The Nation 251 (July 9, 1990), pp. 40-41, 57; Robert Atkins, "A Censorship Time Line," The Art Journal (Fall 1991), pp. 33-37.

24. Steven Mannheimer, "Cincinnati joins the censorship circus," New Art Examiner 17 (June 1990), pp. 33-35; New Art Examiner 18, "CAC, Barrie win in court" (November 1990), p. 13; David Lyman, "Post-Mapplethorpe blues in Cincinnati," New Art Examiner 18 (January 1991), p. 56; see Ferrell, "Criminalizing Popular Culture." And in a different vein, see John Conklin, Art Crime (Westport, CT: Praeger, 1994). [End page 40]

25. See for example Associated Press, "2,000 Christian conservatives cheer anti-abortion speech," Rocky Mountain News (September 12, 1993), p. 34A; Carole Vance, "The War on Culture," Art in America 77 (1989), pp. 39, 41, 43; Tipper Gore, Raising PG Kids in an X-Rated Society (Nashville: Abingdon, 1987).

26. Mannheimer, "Cincinnati," p. 34.

27. Bolton, "Cultural Contradictions," pp. 25, 26.

28. Nadine Strossen, "Academic and Artistic Freedom," Academe 78 (November/December 1992), pp. 8-15, likewise notes the social class bias of recent Supreme Court rulings on obscenity and free speech. See also Michael Bronski, "It's Not the Flesh, It's the Flowers: The `Art Wars' Rage On," Radical America 23 (1989), pp. 47-55, on Mapplethorpe's "out" gay sexuality; Hall and Jefferson, Resistance; and Ferrell, "Criminalizing Popular Culture."

29. Strossen, "Academic and Artistic," p. 15.

30. See Ferrell, Crimes of Style.

31. See Ferrell, Crimes of Style.

32. See for example Hall and Jefferson, Resistance; James Scott, Domination and the Arts of Resistance (New Haven: Yale, 1990); Ferrell, Crimes of Style.

33. See for example Stephen Lyng and Mitchell Bracey, "Squaring the One-Percent: Biker Style and the Selling of Cultural Resistance," in Ferrell and Sanders, Cultural Criminology; Sarah Thornton, "Moral Panic, The Media and British Rave Culture," in Andrew Ross and Tricia Rose, eds., Microphone Fiends: Youth Music and Youth Culture (New York: Routledge, 1994), pp. 176- 192; Anthony Barnett and Andrew Puddiphatt, "Ruled Britannia," The Nation 260 (February 6, 1995), pp. 153-154.

34. Among classic works on youth, culture, and crime, see for example Cohen, Folk Devils; Hall and Jefferson, Resistance; David Greenberg, "Delinquency and the Age Structure of Society," Contemporary Crises 1 (1977), pp. 189-223; Hebdige, Subculture; Dick Hebdige, Hiding in the Light (London: Routledge, 1988); Mike Brake, The Sociology of Youth Culture and Youth Subcultures (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1980); Herman Schwendinger and Julia Schwendinger, Adolescent Subcultures and Delinquency (New York: Praeger, 1985). [End page 41]

35. In other words, as criminologists, we may wish to make use not only of Becker's Outsiders, but his Art Worlds (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982) as well. See Ferrell and Sanders, Cultural Criminology, for more on this.


Jeff Ferrell is associate professor of sociology at Regis University, Denver. He is author of Crimes of Style: Urban Graffiti and the Politics of Criminality (New York and London: Garland Publishing, 1993), and editor, with Clinton R. Sanders, of Cultural Criminology (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1995, forthcoming). [End page 42]