Over recent decades, criminological research has changed from a gender-blind discipline which equated crime with men and thus ignored questions about gender, to an approach that studied gender by showing statistical differences between men and women, and then finally to a more inclusive and elaborate gender-theoretical approach to crime and crime control.
However, despite this development, research on gender - and in particular research on gendered norms and the construction and enactment of masculinities - within the criminological field has been unable to keep up with developments in gender research. Since 1990, only a few anthologies with a gender-theoretical orientation focusing on masculinities within the criminological research field have been published. Many of the theoretical developments in gender research still have difficulties in reaching into mainstream criminology, partly because such developments are often published in feminist and/or gender-theoretical journals.
Together with two colleagues – Ingrid Lander from Sweden and Nina Jon from Norway – I have edited the book “Masculinities in the criminological field”, published by Ashgate in September this year.
A central objective in the process was to bring together researchers from a number of disciplines; criminology, gender studies, history, sociology and youth studies - because we believe that the inter-disciplinary discussion is fruitful for theoretical developments in gender-oriented research in both criminology specifically, and in criminological research in general.
By bringing together researchers across the Nordic region, a central aim of the book is to render visible and problematize conceptions and norms for performing masculinity across a number of settings within the criminological field.
Our definition of ‘the criminological field’ applied in the book is deliberately broad. Thus, the scope of the book is not limited to studies of crime and perpetrators, but also includes focus on (some of) those who are the victims of such crimes as well as the institutional setup in and around the regulation of crime.
The book is divided into three sections, based on three distinct themes that crystallized during the process of working on the book.
The themes are control, i.e. how institutions that work with correcting, disciplining and/or normalizing ‘the other’ in the sense of criminal bodies (re)construct masculinity norms; vulnerable masculinities, i.e. how masculine identities are threatened or challenged by being victims of crime; and finally risk-taking, i.e. how masculinity is performed, viewing crime as a marker of masculinity.
In addition to being structuring themes in the book, these are themes we believe set the parameters for ‘appropriate masculinities’ in present times, at least in the specific context of the Nordic region.
Apart from the editors, contributors to the book are Tove Pettersson, Veronika Burcar, Dag Balkmar, Tanja Joelsson, Lotta Pettersson and Christoffer Carlsson from Sweden; Thomas Ugelvik, Anette Bringedal Houge, Eivind Myhre and Øyvind Thomassen from Norway; Päivi Honkatukia and Leena Suurpää from Finland and Marie Bruvik Heinskou, Simon Simonsen and Sidsel Kirstine Harder from Denmark.
The book is aimed at scholars of criminology, sociology, social work and gender studies, as well as policy-makers, university-level students and law-enforcement professionals. All the chapters present new analyses not published before. It is our hope that the book can contribute to reducing the division between, on the one hand, more general gender theory and research, and on the other hand criminology.