Realist Criminology and its Discontents


Critical criminology must move beyond twentieth-century empiricist and idealist paradigms because the concepts and research programmes influenced by these paradigms are falling into obsolescence. Roger Matthews’ recent work firmly advocates this position and helps to set the ball rolling. Here we argue that Matthews’ attempt to use critical realist thought to move Left Realism towards an advanced position can help to put criminology on a sound new footing. However, before this becomes possible numerous philosophical and theoretical issues must be ironed out. Most importantly, critical criminology must avoid political pragmatism and adopt a more critical stance towards consumer culture’s spectacle. A searching analysis of these issues suggests that, ultimately, criminology is weighed down with obsolete thinking to such an extent that to remain intellectually relevant it must move beyond both Left Realism and Critical Realism to construct a new ultra-realist position.
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Except where otherwise noted, content in this journal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Published: 2016-09-01
Pages:80 to 94
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How to Cite
Winlow, S. and Hall, S. (2016) “Realist Criminology and its Discontents”, International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 5(3), pp. 80-94. doi: 10.5204/ijcjsd.v5i3.247.

Author Biographies

Teesside Centre for Realist Criminology
Professor of Criminology, Co-Founder of Teesside Centre for Realist Criminology