The BSC Critical Criminology Network’s Book of the Year 2016
Why do some men use physical violence against others? How do some men come to value physical violence as a resource? Drawing on in-depth ethnographic research conducted with men involved in serious violence and crime over a period of two years in the North of England, Anthony Ellis addresses these questions and the complex relationship between these men and their use of physical violence against others.
Using detailed life-history interviews and extended periods of observation with these men, Men, Masculinities and Violence describes their ‘inner’ subjective lives and experiences, exploring how they came to value violence, why they are willing to use it against others and risk serious harm to themselves in the process. Over the course of the book a picture emerges of a group of men that have experienced and perpetrated serious violence throughout their lives. This book advances a critical psychosocial understanding of such violence by situating these masculine biographies within their immediate contexts of de-industrialisation, fracturing working class community and culture, and broader shifts within the political economy of liberal capitalism.
With its synthesis of rich ethnographic material and new developments in criminological theory, this book is essential reading for students and academics interested in issues of gender and violence.
‘Tony Ellis is the latest addition to a new generation of ethnographer/theorists who seek to move beyond the obsolete and sometimes prejudicial constructivist positions that clutter the social scientific study of male violence. This book is a resounding success, the first to analyse data from groups of violent working-class males in a transcendental materialist framework to produce a crisp, clear and credible explanation of persistent male violence. Essential and paradigm-busting reading.’
Steve Hall, Professor of Criminology, Teesside University, UK
‘Men, Masculinities and Violence is an outstanding ethnographic study that should be read by everyone with an interest in criminology and the sociology of violence. Ellis leaves the comfortable confines of the university behind and heads out onto the streets in the company of men committed to violence. He returns with detailed stories of gang violence, football hooliganism and other forms of criminality, and he develops a detailed theoretical framework to make sense of it all. This is precisely the sort of research criminology needs to jolt itself out of its present inertia.’
Simon Winlow, Professor and Co-Director, Teesside Centre for Realist Criminology, Teesside University, UK
‘Grounded in exceptional ethnographic engagement and written in an accessible and considered manner Anthony Ellis has produced a fantastic book on the origins and reality of men’s criminal violence. While the topic and focus is sometimes unsettling, the picture of normality fused with occasional stark brutality, which underpins the lived reality of the participants, both as perpetrators and victims, never falls into the trap of romanticism. This is a brilliant book, and one that every serious social scientist should read.’
James Treadwell, Lecturer in Criminology, University of Birmingham
"A remarkable synthesis of empirical data, existing research and new ideas drawn from across the social sciences, which offers an integrated, cohesive account that actually begins to explain geo-spatial concentrations of violence… this is a standout contribution by an early career researcher, one of a new generation of social scientists willing to grapple with new ideas rather than continually rehash tired old concepts from the back end of the 20th century."
Mark Horsley, Teesside University, UK, Sociology
"It takes courage on the part of the reader to approach a text such as Men, Masculinities and Violence with an open and inquiring mind in order to discover what is hidden.Imagine then, the courage, ingenuity and intellectual fortitude it took to both researchthese men and to write a critically informed account of their lives and their violence… The reader will decide for him or herself what is more impressive; the deep penetration and ethnographic immersion into the world of violent men, or the skilled application of complex cutting edge criminological theory like ultra-realism. Overall, this book is interesting and thought provoking, which, in my view, is the gold standard for a social science text in these times of mundane liberal theory and ‘so-what’ criminology."
Brendan Marsh, Queen’s University Belfast, UK, Criminology and Criminal Justice
1.Let’s Get Ready to Rumble 2. Theorising Masculinities and Violence: A Review 3. Top Lad: A Violent Biography 4. Born to Fight 5. Handy Lads 6. It’s ‘not me’…it’s ‘them’: Violent Reflections 7. Shadow World 8. Rolling with the Punches.