Book Review: The French Connection in Criminology: Rediscovering Crime, Law, and Social Change

AuthorMichael J. Bolton
Published date01 September 2005
Date01 September 2005
Subject MatterArticles
Criminal Justice ReviewBook Reviews
The French Connection in Criminology: Rediscovering Crime, Law,
and Social Change, by Bruce A. Arrigo, Dragan Milovanovic, and Rob-
ert Carl Schehr. State University of New York Press, 2005.
DOI: 10.1177/0734016805282749
Whenever an article or book is published that hints of a major knowledge growth in the
nature of how science is actually conducted, a compelling intrigue is created. The French
Connection in Criminology: Rediscovering Crime, Law, and Social Change is no exception.
In its pages, the authors question the wisdom of clinging to the rigid positivistic lenses scien-
tists have relied on for centuries. In addition, despite the fact that a large body of literature
exists showing how historical writings have been penned by powerful persons of privilege
who ignored issues such as gender bias, racism, poverty, and class conflict, Arrigo,
Milovanovic, and Schehr not only use the critical perspectiveto illuminate such abject short-
sightedness, but they also offer the hope of a more inclusive world by challenging core linear
assumptions stemming from modernist thought that have guided scientific reasoning since
the Enlightenment—the “Festival of Reason.”Their plight is monumental because the domi-
nant scientific mind-set is so linked to the systematic, calculable, quantifiable observation of
physical and social phenomena that other nonpositivistic forms of investigating the universe
seem simply inconceivable.
Up until recently—the past several decades, to be sure—modernist scientific methods
have irrefutably tended to be regarded as the primary means for understanding what is know-
able about the universe. Conversely, and especially in the social sphere, postmodernists
negate the core mind-set of modernity by denying the macrotheories, grand narratives, and
macropolitics that have undergirded it for the past five centuries. Although some might sug-
gest that this hints of a knowledge turn of paradigmatic proportion, authors of the French
Connection in Criminology more appropriately call it a “Linguistic Turn in Social Theory,”
because language is so vital to our inner and external worlds—worlds of ideas, images, intu-
itions, concepts, narratives, and texts—that it shapes our existence individually and
Unlike many of the early works on postmodernism that have tended to generate philosoph-
ical questions regarding the integral role power always plays in social relations, what Arrigo,
Milovanovic, and Schehr have created with The French Connection is a useable framework
for understanding how the postmodern, nonlinear lens can serve to demystify the “burning
issues of our era” (p. 139) by “fanning the flames of alternative, provocative, and novellines
of socio-legal scholarship that simultaneously identify the limits of existing research while
charting new directions” (p. xiii). They do this in the first three chaptersby providing worth-
while summaries of writings by deceased and active postmodern scholars, including discus-
sions of the current status of the linguistic turn and how knowledge gained from these writers
can help prepare mankind for a future of confusion and uncertainty. They supplement these
efforts in the last half of the book by demonstrating how lenses can be toggled and applied to
prisons and confinement laws, race and racism (including racial profiling and jury nullifica-
tion), media, cinema and literary texts, restorative justice, and offender mediation.
Book Reviews Criminal Justice Review
Volume 30 Number 2
September 2005 220-255
© 2005 Georgia State University
Research Foundation, Inc.
hosted at

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT