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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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To this should be added the paroxysms of state criminality and state-sponsored terrorism that have long defined the role of the United States and other Western countries in the oil politics of the Middle East--and all of this now fueling an emerging global economy, and sustaining the sorry existence of automotive and energy corporations that rank among the most ruthless and powerful in the world. As Clinard makes clear, “No U.S. corporate industry has abused the American public more or had as bad a record of unethical and illegal behavior for a longer period of time than the oil industry” (1990, 39).

Yet critical criminology's most troubling blindspot is not the scandal of automotive industry misbehavior or the politics of oil imperialism, but the everyday criminality of the automobile--the daily automotive degradation of community life, the daily victimization of innocent passengers and innocent pedestrians and innocent bicyclists by the thousands. After all, as day-to-day collective behavior--that is, as the dominant form of human transport in the United States, as a "vast spontaneous conspiracy" (Ballard 1973, p. 19) saturating the situations of everyday life--even cars with safer fuel tanks still kill quite efficiently; even automobiles offering better fuel economy still exhaust and pollute the earth; and even the most honest of auto executives still manufactures fast-moving machineries of death (Burns 1998).

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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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