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Criminological Artivism: Examining The Potential of Collaboration and Coproduction Between Socially Engaged Art and Critical Criminology

Will Jackson (Liverpool John Moores University, UK)
Will McGowan (Liverpool John Moores University, UK)
Emma Murray (Liverpool John Moores University, UK)

The Emerald International Handbook of Activist Criminology

ISBN: 978-1-80262-200-3, eISBN: 978-1-80262-199-0

Publication date: 9 August 2023


This chapter examines the potential of ‘Artivism’ for activist criminology. Drawing on a body of work developed since 2016, this chapter explores a series of projects that have examined how an approach to research that harnesses the activist qualities of art could be used to inform transformative criminological research. Artivism is an approach that involves merging ‘the boundless imagination of art and the radical engagement of politics’ (Jordan, 2020, p. 60), and by amplifying marginalised voices, the overarching aim is to effect social and political change. This type of activist art is not reducible to the production of political art – art about an issue – but instead seeks to change the way that we think, speak, and act. In this sense, this approach accords with the principles of critical social research in ensuring that ‘the voices and experiences of those marginalised by institutionalised state practices are heard and represented’ (Scraton, 2007, p. 10). Examining pilot projects developed with artists and producers based in Liverpool, England, and focussed on experiences of prison and probation, the authors examine the potential that this approach has to change both the way they work as critical criminologists and the objects of this study. With reference to the question of a method for activist criminology, the chapter suggests that critical criminological work can be informed and enhanced by collaboration with socially engaged art – a form of artistic practice that seeks to address social and political issues and is often associated with activist strategies. This chapter, therefore, aims to contribute to debates about how activist criminologies may be done and offers suggestions for new directions in this work underpinned by interdisciplinary collaborations and the coproduction of research with those similarly committed to a transformative project.



Jackson, W., McGowan, W. and Murray, E. (2023), "Criminological Artivism: Examining The Potential of Collaboration and Coproduction Between Socially Engaged Art and Critical Criminology", Canning, V., Martin, G. and Tombs, S. (Ed.) The Emerald International Handbook of Activist Criminology (Emerald Studies in Activist Criminology), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 49-62.



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Copyright © 2023 Will Jackson, Will McGowan and Emma Murray