The Loneliest Jukebox

Graham Barnfield's weblog, being gradually replaced by his Twitter feed -

Graham Author Page

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Winlow, sweet chariot

A minor controversy over at the Spiked letters page, where criminologist Simon Winlow took exception to my book review of Francis Gilbert's Yob Nation (yours to buy here). This storm in a shot glass broke out after I praised Winlow's serious fieldwork, in contrast to Gilbert's subcultural tourism. Dr. Winlow also disliked my treatment of rising crime rates.

My review mentioned that the Jill Dando Institute of Crime Science had its report about overseas perceptions of crime in Britain (and of legal behaviour bundled in with crime) reported as evidence of rising crime. Yet it wasn't designed to measure that. Moreover, Gilbert's assertion that we have quantitatively more disorder now than ever seems like a device for marketing the book rather than a real measurement of crime rates. In fact, the point of the article was not to talk about crime rates - in which I can only claim expertise around the issue of happy slapping - but to look at the misanthropic niche Gilbert's publishers are exploiting.

As - like Winlow - a former doorman, I enjoyed his book Badfellas (buy it here) and recognised the camaraderie and sudden shifts from boredom to danger he describes. (I also reviewed it for a US journal so won't say any more now, but will link the blog to the review when it eventually appears). My Spiked footnote mentioning 'pulp fiction' seems to have really got under his skin, but it referred to the book's thriller-like penultimate chapter and its Faccia a faccia/ID scenario of the outsider ending up like the group being observed. And how many academic monographs can claim these attributes? I certainly didn't mean to suggest he was making it up. Think of pulp fiction in terms of its narrative drive, rather than its veracity, and we won't end up calling on our old crews to settle it in a pub car park somewhere up north.

US readers can order Badfellas here:


Post a Comment

<< Home