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Towards Planetary Urban Criminology

Bannister, Jonathan and O'Sullivan, Anthony (2020) Towards Planetary Urban Criminology. Criminological Encounters. ISSN 2506-7583


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Urbanisation is the dominant global social process of the current century and criminology is an intrinsically urban discipline. However, criminology has become dominated by the analysis of subsets of areas within a subset of rather homogeneous cities of the Global North. As the discipline has evolved and refracted under the impetus of theoretical, methodological and data advance, it has lost much of its urban vitality, lacking critical self-awareness of its fundamental nature. We argue for a new, or renewed, approach to criminology that begins from the perspective of the city as an open system. We assess the consequences of a criminology that fails to take proper account of the city as a multi-scalar open system. This is without doubt a considerable challenge, but the time is propitious; in the era of Big Data, with a rapidly expanding range of methodologies at its disposal, there exists the possibility for a revivified criminology that remains faithful to its roots. Our proffered approach opens the way to investigating crime through an urban prism for any city in the world – to a planetary urban criminology.

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