Policy as a Crime Scene

Armstrong, S. and Lam, A. (2016) Policy as a Crime Scene. In: Armstrong, S., Blaustein, J. and Henry, A. (eds.) Reflexivity and Criminal Justice: Intersections of Policy, Practice and Research. Palgrave Macmillan: Basingstoke, pp. 101-122. ISBN 9781137546425 (doi: 10.1057/978-1-137-54642-5_5)

134487.pdf - Accepted Version


Publisher's URL: http://www.palgrave.com/gb/book/9781137546418


This paper explores how policy constructs the objects it seeks to regulate, taking as its case the setting of penal policy in contemporary Scotland. It employs two distinctive theoretical frames to develop the analysis: Science and Technology Studies (STS) and ‘scene theory’ a body of work in cultural studies. These offer distinctive lenses that bring into focus how the technologies of policy – statistical reports, independent Commissions, research advice – help produce populations that require intervention. The penal policy setting in question, we argue, can be understood in the same way as a crime scene, where investigators must re-construct forensically a narrative that will be legally validated. In line with the theme of this book, it offers a reflexive account of how researchers themselves are drawn into and participate as key witnesses in the scene, testifying to ‘facts’ about a crime that may have never taken place. The article aims to make the case for the potential of STS and scene theory in producing insights about our understanding of policy, particularly criminal justice policy. In doing this, it also offers a critique of the formation of the criminological discipline in a way that has side-lined policy as an ‘administrative’ rather than critical intellectual issue.

Item Type:Book Sections
Keywords:Penal policy, STS, scene theory, statistics, short prison sentences, Scotland.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Armstrong, Professor Sarah
Authors: Armstrong, S., and Lam, A.
Subjects:H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
K Law > K Law (General)
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Sociology Anthropology and Applied Social Sciences
Publisher:Palgrave Macmillan
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2017 The Authors
First Published:First published in Reflexivity and Criminal Justice: Intersections of Policy, Practice and Research: 101-122
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

University Staff: Request a correction | Enlighten Editors: Update this record