1st Edition

Visual Criminology From History and Methods to Critique and Policy Translation

Edited By Johannes Wheeldon Copyright 2022
    332 Pages 109 Color Illustrations
    by Routledge

    332 Pages 109 Color Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This edited collection captures the expertise of scholars from the US, the UK, Australia, and Canada to catalog the rise in visual approaches in criminology. It presents examples of visual methods, uses, and approaches in criminology; assesses the potential for new graphic approaches to collect, analyze, and present data; and provides some analysis of the use of images in teaching, to spur social critique, and guide policy translation.

    The collection visually connects theory and practice by highlighting the work of criminologists who have embraced the visual turn. Contributors explore the use of cognitive maps, concept and mind maps, life history calendars, CCTV, life plots, GIS and hot spot research, policy graphs, visual abstracts and research summaries,and other visual tools in the context of criminology. Approaches building on visual sociology are also featured, including a discussion of developments in documentary photography and film, visual ethnography, and sensory phenomenology. The book is organized thematically, with each chapter following logically upon the last, introducing readers to a variety of visual approaches and their application in criminology.

    The goals of this collected volume are three-fold. The first is to highlight how the visual has been used in criminology historically to present data, contest meaning and complicate social control, and make more transparent the research process. The second is to work toward some sort of definitional consistency. While a worthy endeavor, this remains elusive given the assortment of uses and varying traditions from which visual criminology has emerged. The third is to try to think clearly about the role of humility. This means a willingness to acknowledge an epistemological framework and note the variety of limitations associated with trying to understand in deep and meaningful ways. For visual criminology specifically, it involves the recognition that part of the power of images (whatever their construction), comes from whether we think they are beautiful or whether and/or to what extent they disrupt our understanding in one way or another.

    This interdisciplinary book will be of interest to criminologists, sociologists, visual ethnographers, historians and those engaged with media studies. It is a valuable supplementary text for courses in introductory criminology and criminal justice, criminological theory, research methods, and other upper-level and senior capstone courses.

    Visualizing Criminology

    1. The Visual Turn in Criminology

    Johannes Wheeldon

    2. Criminological Theory and Criminal Justice Practice: A Visual History

    Jon Heidt

    3. Mapping Criminology and Criminal Justice through the Oral History Criminology Project

    Brendan D. Dooley

    Diagrams and Data

    4. Mapping Criminological Thinking: Incorporating the Visual in the Classroom

    Jon Heidt and Johannes Wheeldon

    5. Visual Data Collection in Justice Research: From Photos and Film to Maps and Meaning

    Heith Copes and Johannes Wheeldon

    6. Visualizing Criminal Careers with the Life History Plot

    Danielle Arlanda Harris and David John Harris

    Understanding and Contesting Images

    7. Visualizing the Value(s) of Critical Criminology: Definitions, Debates, and Dialogue

    Michael Rocque, Chad Posick, and Johannes Wheeldon

    8. The Critical Foundations of Visual Criminology

    Michelle Brown and Eammon Carrabine

    9. Using a Visual Criminology Facebook Group in Blended Instruction

    Chris McCormick

    Visual Analysis and Policy Translation

    10. GIS, Hotspots and Visualizing Crime Prevention

    Nahanni Pollard

    11. Rethinking Victimization: Visualizing Policy Based on Disorganization and Self-Control

    Chad Posick, Michael Rocque, and Johannes Wheeldon

    12. The Value of Data Visualization for Translational Criminology

    George W. Burruss and Yunmei Lu

    13. Visual Criminology: Caveats, Conclusions, and New Directions

    Johannes Wheeldon



    Johannes Wheeldon is Executive Director of SPEAK, an organization dedicated to expanding debate and dialogue. He has more than 20 years’ experience working in criminal justice including teaching in prisons, working with those deemed high risk to re-offend, and designing, conducting, and managing justice reform projects around the world. He has worked with the American Bar Association, the Canadian International Development Agency, the Open Society Foundations, and the World Bank. He has published 5 books and more than 30 peer review papers on aspects of criminal justice, restorative justice, organizational change, and evaluation. He is an Adjunct Professor at Norwich University.

    "Taken together the chapters in this collection allow us to think more deeply about the image and, by extension, push at the margins of visual criminology."

    Kate West, Oxford Brookes University

    ‘This exciting new collection brings together an impressive array of international scholars to explore the emergence, growth, and scope of visual approaches to criminology. The book illuminates not just the possibilities these approaches present for those who research, teach and develop policy in the discipline (and beyond), but also the limitations of the visual. With criminological enquiry increasingly turning to sensorial understandings, this book is an important contribution to these ongoing conversations.’

    Alyce McGovern, University of New South Wales

    ‘Paying close attention to method and epistemology, this collection brings into sharper focus the oft-overlooked foreground of the field of visual criminology, and in doing so, stakes out another position from which to view an emergent field. An indispensable resource for criminologists tangling with the visual.’

    Travis Linnemann, Kansas State University

    ‘From art and identity theft, via representations of offending and victimization, to the use of graphic and pictorial methods and data visualization, a huge field is opening up within criminology. Here an international range of authors examine visual criminology’s past and its ever-expanding future. A fascinating and important tour d’horizon.’

    Tim Newburn, London School of Economics

    ‘This promises to be a very useful collection. The aim is to bring together a wide variety of visual methodologies including not only various types of visual images – including CCTV and documentary photography – but also social media, mind maps and visual geographical methods. By linking visual criminology with similar developments in sociological theory, the collection aims to set the current state of the 'visual turn' in criminology in the context of wider developments in social science.’

    Wendy Fitzgibbon, University of Leicester  

    ‘Thinking about the visual, the sensory, and the recording of experience and memory, opens up the criminological imagination. This collection offers a welcome, timely and critical overview of research and debate on forms of representation and media technologies that ensnare and survey, teach and inspire.’ 

    Nigel South, University of Essex

    ‘Efforts to define what is in the purview of visual criminology have previously resulted in relatively narrow characterizations. This newly published volume moves us in the opposite direction and expands the various ways that visual forms of research and data are both employed by the criminal justice system as well as more sociological visual analysis approaches, including critical theories. In addition, some chapters focus on the use of visual criminological materials in teaching and student learning, including the explosion of visual data on the Internet and social media. Overall, the volume moves the discussion of visual criminology forward in multiple directions, and in all likelihood will inspire both students and faculty to adopt and expand upon these techniques.’

    Cecil Greek, University of South Florida

    ‘Criminology has always been visual. In the coming years, we will bear witness to stunning growth in visual criminology. This book helps researchers and students see what’s been done, what’s going on, and where to go.’

    Scott Jacques, Georgia State University

    ‘The question of how best to embrace the visual turn in criminology remains contested. This book serves as an excellent anthology of existing efforts. From a historical overview and current methods to a fascinating discussion of the power of images, it offers a means for a deeper understanding of crime and justice. This book is essential reading for students of criminology, sociology, human geography, public policy, and media studies.’

    Mohammad Irvan Olii, Universitas Indonesia