In his brief lecture called „Trespass, Trash and Train“ given at the TEDxCMU conference, sociology professor and cultural criminologist Jeff Ferrell talks about the culture of control and regulations in everyday life. In this regard he takes three examples which seem to have nothing in common at first sight:
- Trespassing signs which are supposed to control and regulate movement and specific actions in public spaces
- Dumpster diving as a (in many cases) forbidden practice that rewards the deviant dumpster diver with fascinating insights into post-industrial consumer culture
- Train hoppers, who – in the American tradition of hobo culture – explore the country and in some way break with the rhythm and the pathways of modern society’s life and assist with the defining and finding of one’s identity.
All these examples have in common the fact that they not only refer to a refusal to obey rules and regulations of modern day society, but also to the examination of (or even the participation in) the illicit practices and subcultures which allow the ethnographic researcher to widen the (academic) imagination and unintentionally drift to fascinating fields of study.
Jeff Ferrell is Professor of Sociology at Texas Christian University, USA, and Visiting Professor of Criminology at the University of Kent, UK. He is the author of the books Crimes of Style, Tearing Down the Streets, and Empire of Scrounge, and co-author of Cultural Criminology, winner of the 2009 Distinguished Book Award from the American Society of Criminology’s Division of International Criminology. He’s also the founding and current editor of the NYU Press book series Alternative Criminology, and one of the founding editors of the journal Crime, Media, Culture, winner of the 2006 ALPSP Charlesworth Award for Best New Journal.
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