When Children Kill Children: Penal Populism and Political Culture

When Children Kill Children: Penal Populism and Political Culture

Paperback Clarendon Studies in Criminology

By (author) David A. Green

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  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Format: Paperback | 352 pages
  • Dimensions: 137mm x 213mm x 23mm | 386g
  • Publication date: 30 April 2012
  • Publication City/Country: Oxford
  • ISBN 10: 0199653526
  • ISBN 13: 9780199653522
  • Edition statement: Reprint
  • Sales rank: 904,283

Product description

When Children Kill Children: Penal Populism and Political Culture examines the role of political culture and penal populism in the response to the emotive subject of child-on-child homicide. The book explores the reasons underlying the vastly differing responses of the English and Norwegian criminal justice systems to the cases of James Bulger and Silje Redergard respectively. Whereas James Bulger's killers were subject to extreme press and public hostility, held in secure detention for nine months and tried in an adverserial court; Redergard's killers were shielded from public antagonism and carefully reintegrated into the local community. This book argues that English adverserial political culture creates far more incentives to politicize high-profile crimes than Norwegian consensus political culture. Drawing on a wealth of empirical research, the author suggests that the tendency for politicians to justify punitive responses to crime by invoking harsh political attitudes is based upon a flawed understanding of public opinion. In a compelling study, this book proposes a more deliberative response to crime that accommodates the informed public in news ways - ways that might help build social capital and remove incentives for cynical penal populism.

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Author information

Dr David A. Green is Assistant Professor of Sociology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, The City University of New York. Prior to this he was a postdoctoral Junior Research Fellow at Christ Church, University of Oxford. His main research interests involve the interrelationship between crime, media, public opinion, and politics in a comparative perspective. His work has appeared in The British Journal of Criminology, Crime and Justice: A Review of Research, European Journal of Criminology, and Crime, Media, Culture. His first book, When Children Kill Children: Penal Populism and Political Culture, was published by Oxford University Press in 2008 and won the 2009 British Society of Criminology Book Prize. He was selected as a Straus Fellow at New York University's Straus Institute for the Advanced Study of Law and Justice for 2010-11.

Review quote

Many people talk of the need for comparative method in criminology, few have attempted it and even fewer contribute so imaginatively to the forefront of scholarship as does David Green in this study. Jock Young, Graduate Center, City University of New York. Author of The Criminological Imagination David Green uses comparative analysis of two high-profile child-on-child homicides to explore the complex interconnections between media processes, public opinion and political culture. It would be impressive enough to achieve Green's analytical sophistication in just one of these areas. The extraordinary achievement of When Children Kill Children is to demonstrate theoretical and empirical sophistication, resulting in compelling and cogent analysis, across all three. A remarkable feat of critical scholarship. A genuinely enlightening book. Chris Greer, City University London A master class in comparative criminology, this study proves there is an alternative to demonization in response to child-on-child homicide. David Downes, London School of Economics

Table of contents

1. When children kill children ; 2. Culture, politics in the media in Norway and England ; 3. Crime and punishment in Norway and England ; 4. The constraints and effects of political culture ; 5. The constraints of discourse ; 6. Media constraints and the formation of political opinions ; 7. Contextualizing tragedy ; 8. English penal policy climates and political culture ; 9. Political culture, legitimacy, and penal populism ; 10. Public opinion versus public judgment ; 11. Effecting penal climate change