Criminological knowledge and the politics of impact

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Abstract

This chapter explores the politics of engaging in a research agenda aimed at maximising the impact of criminological knowledge on policy and practice. It is based on a case study of Scottish penal developments, with specific reference to the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime, a longitudinal programme of research which has had demonstrable influence on the nature and function of Scottish juvenile justice (and beyond) (Howard League 2013). The chapter builds on an article first published in the British Journal of Criminology (McAra 2016), which highlighted a major dissonance between policy discourse on youth crime in Scotland and the decision-making practices of key institutions within the juvenile and adult justice systems. This article concluded that, for maximum impact, criminologists needed to engage with and challenge both political and institutional practice: a multi-level approach to transformative action.
In this chapter the argument is further developed by exploring in more detail three interrelated implications of this local history: (i) what it tells us about statecraft, namely the nature and operation of the power and right to punish; (ii) what it tells us about the limits of criminological influence and impediments to impact; and consequently (iii) what it suggests about the future of criminology as an applied and policy relevant discipline.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationReflexivity and Criminal Justice
Subtitle of host publicationIntersections of Policy, Practice and Research
EditorsSarah Armstrong, Jarrett Blaustein, Alistair Henry
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Pages149-168
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)978-1-137-54641-8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017

Keywords

  • Edinburgh study
  • youth justice
  • policy impact
  • statecraft

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