Book Review: A philosophy of the social construction of crime

Published date01 June 2019
Date01 June 2019
Subject MatterBook Reviews
author suggests that independent filmmaking and websites such as YouTube and Vimeo make it pos-
sible for shorter films and a wider variety of prison images to be shown to large audiences, just by
uploading to the Internet.
This book covered an impressive list of media sources in detail, and it is impossible to include
them all. There were still a few well-known prison movies in Chapter 3 that were not mentioned
in the book such as The Last Castle (2001) depicting a military prison with Robert Redford and
James Gandolfini, The Stanford Prison Experiment (2015) that was both a documentary and a
movie, The Hurricane (1999) about the wrongful imprisonment of Ruben Carter, and two movies
about outside relationships with prisoners on death row in The Green Mile (1999) and Dead Man
Walking (1995). Other films depicting incarcerated criminals that weren’t discussed include Bron-
son (2008), Silence of the Lambs (1991), and a thought-provoking depiction of aversion therapy for
sex offenders in A Clockwork Orange (1971).
Despite these omissions, educators and professors who teach corrections classes or crime and
film will find this book particularly useful for its lists and evaluations of supplemental videos and
films. This book is also a useful guide for library representatives who make purchasing decisions
for videos and documentaries. Finally, the issues raised throughout the book also provide ideas for
student writing assignments in a crime and media/film class.
Polizzi, D. (2015).
A philosophy of the social construction of crime. Bristol, United Kingdom: Policy Press. 104 pp. $60.00, ISBN 978-1-
Reviewed by: Gregg Barak, Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, MI, USA
DOI: 10.1177/0734016816637646
As both a Marxist and a social constructionist, this criminologist did not have to be convinced of the
correctness of the ideas or the arguments found in A Philosophy of the Social Construction of Crime.
Similarly, as an integrationist—dialectical and reciprocal—as well as a phenomenologist, this crimin-
ologist did not have to be convinced of the correctness of David Polizzi’ critique of Robert Agnew’s
contradictory vision of a unified criminology, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, of his own
desire to inform his philosophy of the social construction of crime with a phenomenology revolving
around Agnew’s middle-range, general strain theory, because Polizzi believes that thisconceptualiza-
tion of strain provides ‘‘thepossibility for a more integrated or unified recognition of therelationality
of human existenceand social world’’ (p. 62).When I was invited to review this book, a Policy Press
Short volume,
based on its table of contents and a brief description, I agreed to do so because I was
curious to see just how Polizzi would go about ‘‘pulling off’’ this kind of criminological elaboration,
especially since nobody before him had previously tried to do so. I also wanted to check out another
title from anotherpress in the trending world of academicsmall book publishing becausethese types of
works generally leave me wanting more, which also turned out to be the case here.
Like those other smallbooks in the fields of criminology andcriminal justice that I have read often
geared towardthe digital world and availablewith editions in such platformsas Kindle in this instance.
Like those others, I also foundthis one to serve as an excellent primer on the subjectmatter. And in the
case ofthis short form title,I believe that it does deliveroriginal ideas in a conciseand accessibleway for
a subject matterthat otherwise is often dense andnot very accessible. On the otherhand, I am dubious
about the likelihood that the ideasadvanced here, specifically a phenomenologyof the social construc-
tion of crimeand criminals, will capturethe hearts and minds of thelarger criminological community. I
Book Reviews 247

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