4.1 Exploring your criminological imagination
Criminology can be an emotive subject to study (de Haan and Loader, 2002; Karstedt et al., 2011; Drake & Harvey, 2014). Crime, harm and victimisation are all issues that can draw out painful or angry responses, and sometimes these responses are amplified through the media and the stories that you hear about crime. These passions will help to stimulate your criminological imagination, but they can also, sometimes, get in the way of careful, rational analysis.
The trick for the criminologist is learning how to embrace these passions enough to fire your interest and imagination, but not to allow them to prevent you from engaging with the rigours of careful social science thinking and inquiry.
Activity 8 Using the criminological imagination to explore graffiti as a form of resistance
One of the keys to using your criminological imagination is recognising that you are searching for a link between individual actions or reactions and wider social structures, events or influences.
Recall that C. Wright Mills’ way of describing the sociological imagination was the drive to ‘connect private troubles with public issues’. The same is true for the criminological imagination.
If you return to the example of graffiti that you learnt about earlier and think about the times when it is being used as a form of social protest, what might an act of graffiti tell you about ‘public issues’ when it is seen as an individual act of resistance (i.e. a ‘private trouble’)?
To think about the ways that wider social structures can influence and shape individual actions, including acts of resistance or social protest, complete the following activity by selecting the correct option from the drop down boxes.