TV criminologist talks frankly on Black men desistance and social justice

Past studies have suggested that offenders desist from crime due to a range of factors such as family pressures, religious interventions or financial incentives. But there has been a noticeable absence of research on the relationship between desistance and racialization.

However, with over 25 years’ experience of working in prisons, Dr Martin Glynn looks set to chart a new course in criminology. His prior work has explored racial disproportionality within the youth justice system, the racialization of crime and its impact on the desistance process and the social impact of father absence.

His upcoming book by Routledge: Black men, invisibility and crime: towards a critical theory of desistance, which has emerged from his doctoral thesis, is a radical intervention that is set to shake-up a white dominated area of criminology by privileging the voices of Black men.

Dr Glynn builds on recent empirical research in the UK and the USA using Critical Race Theory as a framework for developing new concepts about black men’s desistance. He argues that the collective narrative of black men offers a unique opportunity to transform current understandings of desistance.

Despite the fact that crime and criminal justice are areas where Black communities are continually and consistently pathologized, during his doctoral research, Dr Glynn was still surprised by the absence of Black men’s lived experience within mainstream criminology as a valued source of knowledge.

It is an area dominated by white criminologists “with the conspicuous invisibility of prominent and important black scholars within the theories and analysis of crime,” says Dr Glynn. As a consequence, critical approaches that challenge Eurocentric ideology are often marginalized.

However, he hopes that through the use of counter narratives in the voices of Black men, that “the public will get a first-hand account of their lived reality.” 

Dr Glynn sees his work as “rooted within a desire for social justice. I’m not an ivory tower person,” he says.

However, he does see the importance of bringing his ideas to a wider audience and is not camera shy. On Thursday 29 August Dr Glynn appeared on the ITV Tonight show: Kids without dads, explaining the social impact of absent fathers on Black males. It was linked to his 2011 study on absent fathers called Dad and me.

He also appeared in the Channel 5 reality TV documentary Banged Up in 2008, alongside former Home Secretary Rt Hon. David Blunkett, as an onscreen criminologist.

However, Dr Glynn’s ultimate goals are social justice and social transformation. His future plans are centred on: “Building on the findings of my research to expand the current discourse on race and crime, combined with using them as a tool in the fight for social justice.”

Dr Glynn’s upcoming book: Black men, invisibility and crime: towards a critical theory of desistance is due to be published by Routledge in December 2013.

ISBN                       978-0415715355

Publisher                  Routledge

Publication Date         Dec 2013



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Dr Deborah Gabriel

Dr Gabriel is a Senior Lecturer at Bournemouth University in the Faculty of Media and Communication and during her academic career has lectured in journalism, media, politics, culture and communication. She is concerned with contributing to social change through the innovation of pedagogies of social justice and cultural democracy and prides herself on creative thinking and embedding her philosophy of social justice and equality across teaching, research and professional practice. Her research interests are focused around online political communication, political discourse, raced and gendered constructions and representations in media and popular culture, equality, inclusion and liberation in teaching practice and the dynamics of race, ethnicity and culture in higher education.

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