1st Edition

Harm and Disorder in the Urban Space Social Control, Sense and Sensibility

Edited By Nina Peršak, Anna Di Ronco Copyright 2021
    214 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    214 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Bringing together an international group of authors, this book addresses the important issues lying at the intersection between urban space, on the one hand, and incivilities and urban harm, on the other. Progressive urbanisation not only influences people’s living conditions, their well-being and health but may also generate social conflict and consequently fuel disorder and crime.

    Rooted in interdisciplinary scholarship, this book considers a range of urban issues, focussing specifically on their sensory, emotive, power and structural dimensions. The visual, audio and olfactory components that offend or harm are inspected, including how urban social control agencies respond to violations of imposed sensory regimes. Emotive dimensions examined include the consideration of people emotions and sensibilities in the perception of incivilities, in the shaping of social control to deviant phenomena, and their role in activating or suppressing people’s resistance towards otherwise harmful everyday practices. Power and structural dimensions examine the agents who decide and define what anti-social and harmful is and the wider socio-economic and cultural setting in which urbanites and social control agents operate. Connecting with sensory and affective turns in other disciplines, the book offers an original, distinctive and nuanced approach to understanding the harms, disorder and social control in the city.

    An accessible and compelling read, this book will appeal to those engaged with criminology, sociology, human geography, psychology, urban studies, socio-legal studies and all those interested in the relationship between urban space and urban harm.


    List of figures and tables

    Notes on Contributors


    1. Incivilities, harm and social control in urban space

    Nina Peršak and Anna Di Ronco


    Sensory dimensions of incivilities, harm and social control

    2. Exploring sound and noise in the urban environment: Tensions between cultural expression and municipal control, health and inequality, police power and resistance

    Avi Brisman, Ascensión García Ruiz, Bill McClanahan and Nigel South

    3. Sounds dangerous: Black music subcultures as victims of state regulation and social control

    Lambros Fatsis

    4. Offending sights and urban governance: Expectations of city aesthetics and spatial responses to the unsightly

    Nina Peršak

    5. Green criminology perspective on light pollution

    Katja Eman

    6. When the city smells: Perceptions of decay and physical disorder in Rome

    Anna Di Ronco and Nina Peršak


    Emotion, power and structure in the urban social control setting

    7. Emotion and the city: Emotive dimensions of incivilities and of their urban social control

    Nina Peršak

    8. Power at play: The policing of sex work across two European cities

    Anna Di Ronco

    9. Structural violence, deviance and social control in the urban life and space

    Zoran Kanduč


    Concluding thoughts

    10. The sensory, emotive and power dimensions of incivilities and their social control in the city

    Anna Di Ronco and Nina Peršak




    Nina Peršak is Scientific Director of the Institute for Criminal-Law Ethics and Criminology in Ljubljana and Visiting Professor of the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. She holds a doctorate in law from University of Ljubljana and an LLM (law) and MPhil (social and developmental psychology) from University of Cambridge. Her research interests lie in the areas of criminalisation, criminal policy, human rights, social control, victimology, socio-legal studies and social psychology.

    Anna Di Ronco is Senior Lecturer in Criminology at the Sociology Department of the University of Essex and Deputy Director for its Centre for Criminology. She holds a doctorate in criminology from Ghent University, Belgium. Before starting her PhD, she completed a five-year degree in law at the University of Trento, Italy. Dr Di Ronco’s main research interests cover the regulation, representation and enforcement of incivilities in the urban space, and individuals’ and groups’ resistance to social control in the physical and digital space.



    A bold, provocative and much needed collection that pushes past the boundaries of conventional understandings of urban incivilities. It is a landmark achievement, making a compelling case for a criminology of the senses and is fully attuned to how the landscapes of disorder, crime, justice and social control are experienced in the city.

    Eamonn Carrabine, Professor of Criminology, Sociology Department, University of Essex, UK

    This fascinating and timely book—with its focus on power and structural inequalities as well as the emotional and sensory dimensions of harm and disorder—makes an original and invaluable contribution to the burgeoning ‘field’ of urban criminology.

    Gareth Millington, Senior Lecturer, University of York, UK

    This is a very impressive collection and contribution to critical criminology! It undertakes analysis at the intersection of the senses, affective registers, power/control in examining crime, social harm and disorder in urban spaces; contributes to advances in urban and sensory criminology; and crucially to criminology as a European and global project. A must read and core text for criminological theory modules and indeed, for all researchers interested in urban studies.

    Maggie O’Neill, Professor of Sociology & Criminology at University College Cork, Ireland

    Thinking about cities through the senses and emotion can be a revealing experience to criminologists and urban scholars interested in issues such as harm, disorder and incivility, which this edited book shows very clearly. It is a very welcome and even necessary contribution to urban criminology.

    Lucas Melgaço, Professor of Urban Criminology, Vrije Universiteit Brussel