Criminology

Our growing Criminology list takes a critical stance and features boundary-pushing work with innovative, research-led publications.  

A particular focus of the list are books that engage with our global social challenges, both on a local and international level. We aim to publish books in a wide range of formats that will have real impact and shape public discourse. 

Criminology

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This Conclusion highlights the ways that experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic were mediated and influenced by socio-economic position, and how a microcosm of this can be seen within the sex work community. Some questions about the experiences of sex workers cannot be answered by analysing media texts, and this chapter highlights areas for future study: in particular, the experiences of workers who are beneficiaries, and workers who live with a disability or chronic illness. Finally, the chapter offers a summary of changes and progress that can be seen when comparing this corpus of media coverage to coverage from the previous decade. There are subtle but important shifts in how sex work is discussed more frequently as a job and the language used to describe it, but the position of sex workers who are affected by intersectional oppressions remains fraught.

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This chapter summarises and synthesises the dominant themes in media discourse about sex work and COVID-19 during 2020 and 2021. First, it explores the way that sex work was treated during a national public health crisis is explored, addressing how stigmatising narratives of the sex worker as a disease vector were deployed, and which parts of the sex industry these focused on. Second, the ways that sex workers were made vulnerable are analysed, including economic vulnerabilities. These are considered with reference to which parts of the sex industry are especially exposed to this precarity – notably workers who experienced intersectional oppressions. Third, the chapter addresses how sex workers made use of media coverage to assist with the project of destigmatisation, offering counternarratives, and rendering themselves as part of the broader community. Within this, sex workers’ use of humour to convey key messages about their jobs are explored. Finally, the chapter considers how New Zealand’s model of decriminalisation functioned under stress, and what strengths of this legislative approach are apparent from the research.

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Giving an overview of the core topic areas for the book, this chapter summarises the current functioning of New Zealand’s sex industry. Although prostitution has been decriminalised since 2003, migrant sex workers are still excluded from the protection offered by decriminalisation, and the vulnerabilities this produced became clear during the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic. The history of treating sex work as a public health issue, and viewing the sex worker as a disease vector, is contrasted with the way that New Zealand’s legislation uses a dominant frame of labour to position health concerns as workplace health and safety. Sex worker activist and advocacy organisations frequently develop peer education and health initiatives, and this history is explored for the way it contextualises peer-led efforts during COVID-19. Exploring the existing international research into the effects of the pandemic on sex workers allows for an exploration of how New Zealand’s combination of an unusual legislative approach and unusually successful COVID-19 response produced improved outcomes for many sex workers. The media is a key site where the stigmas of sex work are produced and challenged, and an explanation of this function justifies the selection of objects of analysis in this research.

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In 2020 New Zealand responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with a nation-wide lockdown that successfully stopped community transmission of the virus for a period of time. The impacts of the pandemic on all businesses were explored in the media. Questions about how sex workers would respond were raised very early in the response, prior to restrictions on movement and trading being introduced. Key themes in analysed media during this period included the impacts on the physical activities sex workers could perform; sex workers as community members and public health advocates; the misbehaviour of clients attempting to breach lockdown; a move towards producing online content; and sex workers’ ability to access financial support aimed at businesses. Media coverage contained elements of stigmatising narratives and stereotypes, such as the sex worker as a vector of disease, but effective uses of the media by sex workers helped to counter these. Sex work was sometimes considered alongside comparable industries, suggesting a discursive shift to being discussed in the register of work, without its status as a job first having to be justified.

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In 2021 New Zealand began to face increasing difficulties in keeping COVID-19 out of the community, and the largest city, Auckland, was kept in a state of lockdown or heightened restrictions during the latter part of the year. The impacts of this on sex workers is explored in this chapter through the lens of media texts. Key themes that emerged here were online sex work and the impact of OnlyFans’ planned ‘porn ban’; inconsistent access to economic support; workers who broke the lockdown or crossed regional boundaries to work; and changes to the precautions sex workers were required to take in their interactions with clients. The impacts of the pandemic on multiple-marginalised groups, including migrant sex workers, are examined here, as well as the impacts of banking discrimination.

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Avoid the Moist Breath Zone

New Zealand’s relatively recent decriminalisation of sex work, and its unusual success in combatting COVID-19, have both attracted international media interest. This accessibly-written book uses the lens of news media coverage to consider the pandemic’s impacts on both sex workers and public perceptions of the industry.

Analysing the stigmatisation of sex work in both short- and long-term contexts, the book addresses the impacts of intersectional oppressions or marginalisations on sex workers, and the ways sex work advocacy relates to other social justice movements. It unpicks how New Zealand’s decriminalisation approach functions under stress, offering valuable information for advocates, activists and scholars.

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In recent decades the study of emotions in the daily lives and geographies of migrants has received growing attention. In this chapter, I discuss the emotional attachments expressed by young male migrants in relation to public spaces in Cork, Ireland. This chapter interrogates the interrelation of affect and emotion and ‘spatial belonging’ from a migrant perspective, and is based on a recent study of homemaking practices of two subgroups of young male migrants in Ireland: international students and refugees. The data collected through walking interviews and photo elicitation interviews show interesting similarities between these two different groups. This chapter focuses on public spaces as homes and thus offers a novel analysis of emotions within the context of migration of single young male migrants in Europe and their ways of creating a meaningful sense of spatial belonging within public spaces.

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This chapter examines the experiences and life-worlds of young migrant women in Thembisa, a sprawling township on the outskirts of the city of Johannesburg, South Africa. Based on conversations and interviews in small hairdressing salons where the young women congregate, the chapter explores how they form relationships and build networks around what we refer to as ‘private-public’ spaces. ‘Private-public’ spaces describe the ways in which a space like a hair salon can be open to anyone on a busy, open street but also be a space for creating (sometimes temporary) friendships, networks and threads of trust among girls and young women looking for better futures in a different country. Exploring how the teenage girls, many of whom have become mothers themselves at a young age, do not fit the stereotypical picture of a vulnerable child migrant, the chapter argues for a greater focus on the realities and needs of migrant youth and especially girls as they move across borders, and base their survival on spaces which simultaneously expose and provide protection from the precarious experiences of everyday life in South Africa.

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Esatis is an engaged slam poet from the Central African Republic. Nathan-2K is a Congolese gospel music guitarist. Both young men left their respective home towns and made their way to a foreign African megapolis in search of greener pastures. Based on two biographical trajectories, this chapter (1) problematises South–North migration and concentrates on trajectories within Africa; (2) questions the artificial migrant–refugee divide and; (3) challenges images of the vulnerable refugee/migrant and underlines self-affirmation, personal success and dignity instead. The biographic approach helps to contextualise important moments of decision in these young men’s biographical trajectories. Exploring these details leads to a deeper understanding of how lives of youth in urban Africa can unfold in a constant interplay between structure and agency (through music).

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The city – rather than the state – plays an important role in refugee youth’s everyday experiences. In this chapter, we draw upon participatory research among young refugees and asylum seekers in Amsterdam to illustrate the lived experiences of these youngsters in public spaces in the urban fabric of Amsterdam. We illustrate their favourite places, the use and meaning of these spaces, and how these spaces impact their sense of belonging in both the Netherlands and Amsterdam. The findings show that it is not self-evident for refugee youth who are new to the city to immediately exploit the potential of public space. Semi-public spaces can fill an important role in providing a safe and meaningful space for refugees’ integration and participation in society. At the same time it is not self-evident to transmit these encounters beyond these semi-public places, which illustrates that conviviality is spatially bound to specific places.

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