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Inventing community safety: representation and performativity in the criminological imagination

Edwards, Adam Michael ORCID: and Hughes, Gordon 2008. Inventing community safety: representation and performativity in the criminological imagination. [Working Paper]. School of Social Sciences Working Papers Series, vol. 105. Cardiff: Cardiff University. Available at:

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What is a criminological imagination for? This paper considers developments in criminological theory that question orthodox concerns with contesting representational claims about crime and control, emphasising instead the performative qualities of criminological thought; that theory brings into being the very social relations it then explains. Against the proposition that performativity liberates criminological thought from the burdens of sociological realism, it is argued the two are interdependent; criminological futures are invented through representations of the present. Further, a rejection of sociological realism obviates the anterior conditions of any particular imagination, notably other, competing, imaginaries. This anteriority is demonstrated through reference to four inventions of ‘community safety’, a floating signifier within contemporary criminology with no fixed referent and a multiplicity of significations. Rather than demonstrating the detachment of performative and representational claims, the polyvalence of this concept reveals the necessary dependence of each invention on contested representations of the present; of what community safety ‘really’ is about.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Publisher: Cardiff University
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 05 Nov 2022 15:52

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