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The Spectacle of Criminal Justice

Smith, Rosie (2018) The Spectacle of Criminal Justice. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Rosie Smith 107012886 Final Version.pdf - Examined Thesis (PDF)
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Abstract

This thesis examines the role of the spectacle in criminal justice. No longer is the spectacle focused on the punishment of offenders splayed and leaking atop the town scaffold, but rather the focus has moved to the visual drama of criminal trials broadcast and exposed on television screens and in newspapers. Fundamentally, questions of justice have moved into the media spotlight, taking on spectacular properties. It examines the shift in visibility away from punishment and towards criminal justice, and investigates the role of the spectacle in these processes. To construct this narrative, the concept of 'Spectacular Justice' is proposed. Spectacular justice describes the ways in which the mass media has the power to take the private matters of criminal cases and turn them into high-profile public dramas. Adopting a visual criminological approach, spectacular justice is used to examine the relationship between a post-nineteenth century decline in the spectacle of public punishment (Foucault, 1991) and the upsurge in technologies which facilitate a social world defined by media spectacles (Debord, 2012). Through the discourse analysis of print and broadcast media archives, and focusing upon the figures of the victim, the perpetrator, and the expert, the research explores eight case studies from the United Kingdom, the United States, and Norway dating between 1811 and 2014, to illuminate how the spectacle of justice operates. As such, spectacular justice is used to reignite scholarly interest in narratives of the spectacle and contributes to the field of criminology by privileging sight as central, and media materials as mobilisers of insight and debate. We are living in a society defined by global media spectacles and this thesis examines how criminal justice has become a keystone within these visual structures. Spectacular justice gives meaning to the power of media discourses to make justice visible and the condemned notorious.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of York > Sociology (York)
Depositing User: Dr Rosie Smith
Date Deposited: 25 Mar 2019 12:26
Last Modified: 25 Mar 2019 12:26
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/23373

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