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Tijdschrift Tijdschrift over Cultuur & Criminaliteit x Jaar 2018 x
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Emotions and Explanation in Cultural Criminology

Tijdschrift Tijdschrift over Cultuur & Criminaliteit, Aflevering 1 2018
Trefwoorden cultural criminology, emotions, affective states, explanation, theory
Auteurs dr. Nicolás Trajtenberg
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    Cultural Criminology (CC) is one of the most recent and exciting developments in criminological theory. Its main argument is that mainstream criminological theories provide inadequate explanations of crime due to epistemological and theoretical flaws. CC’s alternative involves assuming a phenomenological and interpretative approach that focuses on the cultural and emotional components of crime. In this article I shall argue that although CC makes a valid demand for more realistic and complex explanations of crime, its own alternative needs to deal with two main challenges referred to its conceptualization of explanation and emotion. First, two problematic antagonisms should be avoided: understanding vs. causal explanation; and universal nomothetic explanations as opposed to ideographic descriptions. Considering recent developments in philosophy of social science, particularly the ‘social mechanisms approach’, CC should focus on explaining retrospectively through identification of specific causal mechanisms rejecting universal and predictive pretensions. Second, although cultural criminologists rightly question the emotionless character of criminological explanations, they lack an articulated alternative conceptualization of emotions to explain crime. A more refined concept needs to be elaborated in dialogue with recent advances in social sciences.


dr. Nicolás Trajtenberg
Dr. Nicolás Trajtenberg is senior lecturer and researcher at the Department of Sociology, Universidad de la República (UdelaR), Uruguay. He holds a PhD in criminology by the Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge, UK. His main areas of research are explanation and theory in criminology, and youth violence. E-mail: nico.trajtenberg@gmail.com.
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