School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Griffith University
There are few studies of the ways criminology and criminal justice (CCJ) undergraduates consume fictional crime in their everyday lives. The existing studies are intent upon uncovering misunderstandings and misconceptions, said to be induced by the consumption of fictional texts (Barthe et al, 2013; Robbers, 2007). That is, this sparse research emerges from the perspective of ‘corrective criticism’ (Lam, 2014), which is the tendency for criminologists ‘to treat popular cultural representations as first and foremost inaccurate representations about crime or questionable matters of fact’. The present research asked CCJ students to create an outline for a fictional crime television series which they would enjoy watching themselves. The study explored why particular content featured, and what the participants felt they and other audiences might derive from their productions. There was little evidence that participants confused fiction with ‘reality’. They remained aware that they were producing fictions, and seemingly dismissed their own initial thoughts on the need to strive for ‘authenticity’ or to portray the ‘actuality’ of crime and the criminal justice system, beyond some threshold to establish credibility. They understood intuitively, and assumed their potential audiences understood, the rules and conventions of fictional production and consumption. The experience of creating their own fictions, and subsequent discussions about crime fiction consumption, prompted the participants to reflect on aspects of personal identity, career interests, popular and televisual cultures, crime, and broader social and political concerns. In everyday life, they consume crime television in multiple ways, reflecting the complexities of person-text interactions. A thematic analysis of responses to the research activity is addressed in the presentation.
Kerry Wimshurst is a lecturer in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Griffith University. His teaching areas are in youth justice, and crime and media. His research areas are in criminal justice education, and criminal justice history.