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.

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