On Some Limits and Paradoxes of Academic Orations on Public Criminology

Nicolas Carrier


Calls for public criminology typically start by lamenting the diminished influence of criminology, and by evoking an urgent need to reverse this trend, given what is usually referred to as the punitive turn characterizing contemporary liberal democracies. Not infrequently, contributions on public criminology take on a confessional path, recounting one’s frustrating or heroic adventures in trying to be a public criminologist, hoping to provide roadmaps and warnings to an academic public confronted with the normative - rather than cognitive - injunction to ‘go public’. This article identifies some limits of the core qualities of academic orations on public criminology: the division of criminological labour, the diminished influence of criminology, the framework of relevance, the framework of transmission, and the framework of impact. In some cases, these limits can be observed as paradoxes folded into the work of the proselytizers. Such is the case, notably, in what I call the paradox of mastery, where critics of social control show themselves obsessed with controlling and manipulating their fellow citizens, as well as in the paradox of exclusion, where critics of exclusionary policies advocate for public criminological discourses and engagements premised on the negation of the validity of certain criminological discourses.


public criminology - normativity - critique - epistemology - news-making criminology

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