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Speed Kills by Jeff Ferrell

Drug Wars, Crimes of the Automobile & A Cultural Criminology of Roadside Shrines

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angel statue at roadside shrine by jeff ferrell (

But this second part of the answer in turn suggests one more set of questions, perhaps the most troubling: Why does the day-to-day criminology of the automobile remain an all but abandoned outpost in the already lonely "Siberia of corporate criminology" (Mokhiber and Weissman 1999, p. 25)? In more personal terms, in Springsteen's terms: Why have all sorts of social injustice been botherin' me my whole life, but until recently, not this sort?

The long-term consequences of such activities, on the other hand, have locked us all in a prison of profound ecological destruction and social harm. In Paris, Rome, Bogota, Tehran, and other world cities, residents wear air masks as they move about in suffocating automotive pollution, and officials institute car-free days in a desperate attempt to reduce it. Meanwhile, the ongoing, frenetic construction of roads and freeways continues, cutting urban neighborhoods down the middle, carving the city into atomized isolation, and “colonizing ever more spaces that were once devoted to human exchange and transforming them into systems of parking lots connected by highways” (Korton 1995, 283). Such spaces isolate people from each other and create lost ecologies left "inaccessible to everyday experience" (Brissette 1999, p. 3; Ballard 1973); they underwrite the city's sprawl into a countryside itself caught in a tightening web of roads and highways. Of course, even where no road runs, the ruinous effects of endless oil exploration, of snaking oil pipelines and leaking oil tankers, of global warming, add to the car's awful consequences.

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Jeff Ferrell. Culture, Crime, and Cultural Criminology. Journal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture, 3(2) (1995)

Jeff Ferrell. 9-11 and the Public Construction of Commemoration. Teaching & Understanding Sept 11. 

Ferrell and Sanders. Cultural Criminology (1995)

Ferrell and Hamm. Ethnography at the Edge

Jeff Ferrell, Tearing Down the Streets: Adventures in Urban Anarchy. Jeff's "Boredom, Crime and Criminology" (free full text .pdf) is based on his field research for this book.

Intro ] 1 ] 2 ] 3 ] [ 4 ] 5 ] End ]

This text is excerpted from an article of the same title in Critical Criminology: An International Journal, v 11 #3 (2002). The full article (.pdf) is freely available from the 'key papers' section of Cultural Readers can also access full text via SpringerLink. 

Critical Criminology is the official journal of the American Society of Criminology's Division on Critical Criminology. The official homepage of the Critical Criminology journal is at Springer.

"On one side sales of the gas-guzzling, pollution-spewing, downright dangerous behemoths continue to soar. And apparently, the more fuel-inefficient the better: Dealers are having a hard time keeping up with the demand for the Hummer H2, GM's new $50,000 barely domesticated spinoff of the Gulf War darling, which struggles to cover 10 miles for every gallon of gas it burns. The symbolism of these impractical machines' military roots is too delicious to ignore. We go to war to protect our supply of cheap oil in vehicles that would be prohibitively expensive to operate without it.

"There seems to be no shortage of Americans who think that consuming 25 percent of the world's oil just isn't enough. Maybe the next model, the H3, will need to be connected to an intravenous gas-pump hose all the time. And there would still be people eager to buy it.

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