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University of New South Wales Faculty of Law Research Series

Faculty of Law, UNSW
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Grewcock, Michael --- "Public Criminology, Victim Agency and Researching State Crime" [2012] UNSWLRS 43

Last Updated: 18 September 2012

Public Criminology, Victim Agency and Researching State Crime

Michael Grewcock, University of New South Wales

This paper is available for download at


This paper was published in (2012) 1 State Crime 1, pp. 109-125. This paper may also be referenced as [2012] UNSWLRS 43.


Using the example of Australia's immigration detention policies, this article engages with contemporary debates about public criminology to explore how, when researching state crime, criminologists should conceptualize victims. It is argued that what is missing from the debates about public criminology (and much state crime research) is a systematic discussion of victim agency. A number of question will be addressed throughout the discussion: Can victims be the "object" of "neutral" research? Should detainees, for example, be seen primarily as passive victims of state abuse? What role is played by institutional ethic policies, especially those based on medical models? It will be argued that state crime research should acknowledge-if not emphasize-the potential subjective role played by victims; that there is a complex and dynamic inter-relationship between the researcher and the victim that confronts traditional perceptions of criminological research; and that victim resistance, combined with criminological research, can be crucial in designating particular state activities as criminal and constructing the social audience that rejects them.

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