Theme one: Crime, Culture and Society

Work in this area is concerned with ongoing social and cultural change, and how this impacts on our understanding of crime and deviance. We incorporate a critical perspective on a broad range of areas around culture, including the impact of consumer culture, identity, space and place, and cultural engagement and disengagement. Underlying these research areas are the social and political implications of cultures of austerity and criminological realities around the global dominance of neoliberal economic and social policy.

The Crime, Culture and Society group is multi-disciplinary, with members from a range of backgrounds across the social sciences. We utilise a range of qualitative and quantitative methodologies to address an array of theoretical and applied lines of criminological enquiry. Currently, much of our research focuses on the cultural intersection of social divisions, harm and victimisation.

Theme coordinator: Dr Oliver Smith.

Areas of research expertise

  • Realist and cultural theories
  • Identity
  • Power and political economy
  • Consumer culture
  • Race, crime and justice
  • Social deviance
  • Rural criminology
  • Drugs, alcohol and NPS
  • Crime history


  • Dr Iain Channing – everyday offending within historical contexts
  • Dr Zoë James – Gypsy, Traveller and Roma issues; ‘policing’ social exclusion; managing hate and diversity in complex communities
  • Dr Dan Gilling – contrasting spatial representations of crime and its cultural significance
  • Dr Chris Pac-Soo – race and victimisation in the night time economy
  • Dr Gisella Hanley Santos – drug use and ‘rehabilitation’; street children and young offenders in Brazil; identity, culture and inequality
  • Thomas Raymen – deviant leisure; consumerism and violence; gambling and the night-time economy; urban lifestyle sports; visual criminology
  • Dr Oliver Smith – violence, inequality and social harm associated with consumer and leisure practices; alcohol consumption within the night economy; deviant leisure.

Current and recent research projects

Foreign National Workers in the Night Time Economy (NTE): An examination of vulnerability, violence and identity 
This research aims to examine the lived experiences of foreign nationals in the NTE who work as taxi drivers and in fast food outlets. It addresses issues relating to gendered and racist victimisation in the NTE. Funded by the British Academy and Leverhulme Trust.

Gendered Violence in the NTE 
We are currently seeing small signs of progressive change around a number of areas of sexual assault, rape and harassment, as well as an apparent increase in reporting of rape and sexual assault. However, few comparable advances or increases in protection appear to have been afforded women who are victimized within the night-time economy (NTE). Here, responsibilisation of the victim prevails, sexual aggression is pervasive, and alcohol consumption within the NTE is linked to a high proportion of reported cases of rape. Through the collection of observational and interview data, this project provides accounts of the experiences of women who participate and work in the NTE, enabling a theoretically nuanced exploration of low level sexual violence experienced by women in these spaces.

Young Offenders in their Transition to Adulthood in Brazil 
This research explores the lived experiences and pathways of a group of young offenders in Brazil in their transition to adulthood, exploring issues of violence, inequality and meaning-making.

Parkour, Deviance, and Leisure in the Late Modern City 
This is an on-going ethnographic research project funded by an ESRC doctoral studentship. It aims to situate the cultural lifestyle sport of parkour and freerunning at the nexus between deviance and leisure, and to explore how this nexus manifests in urban space. The fundamental objective is to explain the paradoxical celebration and criminalisation of parkour within an ultra-realist criminological framework which focuses upon late-capitalist consumer culture and the neoliberal hyper-regulation of privatised city spaces.


Everyday Offending in Plymouth (1880-1920)
This is an interdisciplinary pilot study undertaken by colleagues across the Law School and includes input from history, sociology and geography for a much broader examination of everyday offending, past and present. It will help develop a better understanding of current law-breaking and crime management policies and their origins. This involves the examination of social conditions and the lives and experiences of offenders as well as analysing the role local bodies (such as the police, court missionaries/ probation officers, the courts and the media) play in crime control and moral regulation.

Supporting an Assessment of the Accommodation Needs of Gypsies and Travellers in Cornwall 
This research project, carried out in collaboration with Southern Horizons (UK) Ltd, was commissioned by Cornwall Council to fully assess Gypsies and Travellers accommodation requirements in the county. In doing so the research utilised existing data on Gypsy and Traveller settlements in the county alongside a specifically commissioned survey with Gypsies and Travellers to effectively identify need and potential accommodation provision.

Gambling, Indebtedness, and Social Harm
This research project is a response to the explosive popularisation of the gambling industry, an industry which has become normalised and linked, in its various forms, to late modern gendered identities and social circles, football fandom, and the night-time economy. However this research looks at the more socially deleterious effects of gambling, conceptualising it as a form of 'normalised harm' in consumer capitalism's blurred nexus between deviance and leisure. Looking at the diverse realms of betting and gambling in casinos, virtual gambling communities, and online bookmakers, this research focuses specifically upon the relationships between gambling, the night-time economy, football fandom, payday loans and a culture of indebtedness, and its associated markets for crime and deviance.