Fractured Lives, Dissenting Voices, Recovering ‘Truth’: Frontiers of Research and Resistance


Emerging from critical conferences in the early 1970s involving academic researchers, community-based workers and activists, critical social research challenged the role and legitimacy of mainstream social sciences in their support of social orders fractured by class, ‘race’, sectarianism, gender, sexuality and age. This article opens with a brief reflection on the emergence and consolidation of critical social theory as the foundation and context for research that challenges state-institutionalised power and authority. It draws on long-term, in-depth primary research into the operational policies and practices of policing and incarceration, exploring the profound challenges involved in bearing witness to the ‘pain of others’. Recounting personal testimonies ‘from below’, revealing institutionalised deceit and pursuing ‘truth recovery’, it argues that dissenting voices are the foundation of hope, resistance and transformation.

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Published: 2020-11-26
Pages:1 to 15
Section:Special Issue: State Violence - Practices and Responses
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How to Cite
Scraton, P. (2020) “Fractured Lives, Dissenting Voices, Recovering ‘Truth’: Frontiers of Research and Resistance”, International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 9(4), pp. 1-15. doi: 10.5204/ijcjsd.1686.

Author Biography

Queen's University Belfast
 United Kingdom

Phil Scraton is widely published on critical theory, incarceration and children/ young people his books include: In the Arms of the Law - Coroners’ Inquests and Deaths in Custody; No Last Rights - The Promotion of Myth and the Denial of Justice in the Aftermath of the Hillsborough Disaster; Identifying and Resolving Inter-Agency Conflict in the Aftermath of Disaster; Hillsborough The Truth; Power, Conflict and Criminalisation; The Incarceration of Women; Women’s Imprisonment and the Case for Abolition. Co-author of reports for the NI Commissioner for Children and Young People (Children’s Rights) and the NI Human Rights Commission (Women in Prison). Member of the Liberty Advisory Committee on deaths in custody, he led the Hillsborough Independent Panel’s research team and was principal author of its ground-breaking 2012 Report, Hillsborough. In 2016 he published a revised edition of Hillsborough: The Truth. Consultant on, and contributor to, the 2017 BAFTA winning ESPN/BBC documentary Hillsborough, he holds a Leverhulme Fellowship. In 2018, with Rebecca Scott Bray at the University of Sydney, he co-convened community-based research programme on coroners’ inquests into deaths in custody and during arrest. He was a member of the JUSTICE Working Party into inquiries and inquests post-disaster, When Things Go Wrong, August 2020. He is lead investigator for the Irish Council of Civil Liberties’ research project Deaths in Contested Circumstances and Coroners’ Inquests. He has been awarded the Freedom of the City of Liverpool in recognition of his Hillsborough research.