Recrafting Ethnography: Crime, Harm and Control in the 21st Century


4th Annual Ethnographies of Crime and Control Symposium

Pearce Institute, Glasgow. 13-14 June, 2019.

Ethnographies of crime, harm and control endure against a backdrop of constant challenge. In addition to age-old ethical dilemmas relating to trust, reciprocity and disclosure ethnography must now stand up to pressures of funding, relevance and impact. Longstanding challenges over scientific validity have been ramped up by urgent calls for interdisciplinarity, co-production and methodological pluralism. At the same time, the stability of place-based and longitudinal approaches have been unsettled as populations, cultures, and identities are forged on the move, out of time, in-between real and virtual environments. It is against this backdrop that this symposium invites emerging and established ethnographers to share and discuss old and new ways of doing ethnography, whilst seeking out innovative conceptual, methodological, and practical responses to these challenges and opportunities. Through a combination of workshops, plenaries and parallel sessions, we seek to create space for honesty, reflection and debate as to how we might (re)imagine and recraft ethnographies of crime, harm and control both in and for the twenty-first century.


Abstract (150 words) should be submitted to by Friday 10th May, on one or more of the following themes:



The craft of ethnography:

Boundaries of ethnography – access and gatekeeping

Practice and pedagogy

Performing ethnography: backstage, frontstage, offstage

Personal and ethical dilemmas



Ethnography in the 21st century:

Mobile, liquid and ‘instant’ ethnography

Digital, virtual and hybrid approaches

Sensory methods

Changing temporalities and spaces



Recrafting ethnography:


Collaboration and co-production

Interdisciplinary dialogues

Doing and undoing ethnography

Ethnography beyond the Text


We welcome submissions of non-traditional formats.


Authors will be notified of successful proposals by 17 May. There will be spaces for non-presenting participants, and a small number of travel bursaries will be available.



Crime and Control Ethnography Symposium 2018

The third Crime and Control Ethnography Symposium was hosted by the Department of Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London and took place on Wednesday 5th and Thursday 6th of September, 2018. Goldsmiths has a rich history of exciting interdisciplinary research on crime, deviance and exclusion, and in 2015 the Department of Sociology launched two new criminology undergraduate degrees (Criminology and Criminology & Sociology).

In spite of ceaseless pressures to chase metricised research “outputs”, increasingly risk-adverse institutional ethics committees, and the scant legal protections afforded to academic researchers, ethnographic methods remain popular in research on crime and deviance and their control. However, in a shifting institutional, bureaucratic, legal and technological landscape, ethnography’s continuing survival and success requires that researchers share experiences, knowledge and expertise through frank discussions about the realities of undertaking research.

The symposium brought together ethnographers from a range of disciplines for two days of workshops, walks, presentations and discussion on the challenges involved in researching crime, deviance and social control. Themes discussed included intoxicated ethnography; guilty knowledge; friends as participants; breaking the law; mistakes; ethnography on the move; private and public selves; institutional ethnographies; consent; gender and fieldwork; sensory methods; gaining access; and auto-ethnography.

Eminent ethnographers Maggie O’Neill, Les Back and Shane Blackman joined the conference as keynote speakers. Maggie, Les and Shane have undertaken ethnographic research on subjects including prisons and youth subcultures. Their many books, articles and chapters on ethnographic research have inspired researchers internationally.

The symposium was preceeded by a 2-hour workshop focussing on digital security for researchers. The workshop introduced participants to the knowledge and practical skills needed to protect their mobile devices, computers and communications from unwanted search.

The symposium was free to attend – although places were strictly limited and preference will be given to practicing ethnographers, early career researchers and PhD students.

The symposium was organised by ethnographers in the Goldsmiths Department of Sociology, Jennifer Fleetwood and Theo Kindynis, and was supported by funding from the British Society of Criminology and the Centre for Community and Urban Research.

For more information, please email