Tom Raymen discusses his work on Parkour and the neoliberal city with Laurie Taylor on Thinking Allowed. Listen here:
“Thomas Raymen brings together cutting edge social theory and immersive fieldwork, rendering Parkour a subject of serious intellectual import… A landmark text.” – Dr Travis Linnemann, of the School of Justice Studies, Eastern Kentucky University and ASC Critical Criminologist of the Year 2017.
Taking us on an ethnographic journey into the spatially transgressive practice of parkour and freerunning, Parkour, Deviance and Leisure in the Late-Capitalist City: An Ethnography attempts to explain and untangle some of the contradictions that surround this popular lifestyle sport and its exclusion from our hyper-regulated cities. While the existing criminological wisdom suggests that these practices are a form of politicised resistance, this book positions parkour and freerunning as hyper-conformist to the underlying values of consumer capitalism and explains how late-capitalism has created a contradiction for itself in which it must stoke desire for these lifestyle practices whilst also excluding their free practice from central urban spaces.
Drawing on the emergent deviant leisure perspective, this book takes us into the life-worlds of young people who are attempting to navigate the challenges and anxieties of early adulthood. For the young people in this study, consumer capitalism’s commodification of rebellious iconography offered unique identities of ‘cool individualism’ and opportunities for flexibilised employment; while the post-industrial ‘creative city’ attempted to harness parkour’s practice, prohibitively if necessary, into approved spatial contexts under the buzzwords of ‘culture’ and ‘creativity’.
This book offers a vital contribution to the criminological literature on spatial transgression, and in doing so, engages in a critical reappraisal of the evolution of the relationships between work, leisure, identity and urban space in consumer capitalism.
“Every once in a while, a social scientist comes along who is willing to defy convention and forge ahead with a radically different understanding of society and its problems. Thomas Raymen is one such social scientist.” – Simon Winlow, Professor of Criminology, Northumbria University
Drawing on recent terror incidences across Europe, Leanne McRae examines the relationship between the leisured spaces that are targeted in terror attacks and the violence of capitalism in this vital first book in Emerald’s Deviant Leisure series.
Click on the book cover below to access a sample chapter
Thomas Raymen, Plymouth University
On 14th May 2018, the US Supreme Court made a ruling that has essentially opened the gateway for the nationwide legalization of sports betting. The decision struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), a federal law made in 1992 banning sports betting. Within hours of the ruling, the prices of shares in UK-based bookmakers such as Paddy Power Betfair, who are deep into socialized forms of app-based remote sports-betting, rose by 10.4%; while 888Holdings share price spiked 14% (BBC News, 2018). Continue reading
Deviant Leisure has made it into the latest edition of the Oxford Handbook of Criminology, collated by a new editorial team of Alison Liebling, Shadd Maruna and Lesley McAra. A new chapter by Keith Hayward and Oliver Smith examines the relationship between consumerism and crime, taking into account the explanations offered by cultural criminology, ultra-realism and deviant leisure perspectives.
Inclusion in one of the most authoritative collections of criminological thought is a significant achievement and signals the capacity for deviant leisure perspectives to contribute to debate across the discipline and to capture the imagination of a new generation of criminologists.
Thomas Raymen, Plymouth University
Over the past three decades, the gambling industry has undergone a significant process of deregulation. While this has largely been a global phenomenon, few governments have embraced these changes as enthusiastically as those of the UK. In 2007, the introduction of the Gambling Act (2005) effectively liberalised the industry by withdrawing prohibitions on the television advertising of sports betting, casinos and poker. Since then, Ofcom (2013) have reported that there has been a 600% increase in gambling advertising, with the industry spending £456 million on TV advertising between 2012 and 2015 (Chapman, 2016). Major sports broadcasters of Association Football have even squeezed in a new advertising segment immediately prior to kick-off, enticing viewers to place last-minute bets with up-to-the-minute odds on the first team or player to score. This aggressive liberalisation has significantly enhanced revenues for the gambling industry; lucrative profits that are contingent upon a multitude of intensifying financial, social and personal costs to the gambler. The most recent statistics from the Gambling Commission (2016) indicate that British gamblers incurred a record £12.6 billion in losses last year, a number that has been consistently rising since 2011. Online gambling accounts through poker, casino and sports betting account for a third of these losses, while punters lost £1.7 billion on fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) alone; machines that have been dubbed the ‘crack cocaine’ of gambling for their addictive nature and rapid gameplay, allowing players to stake as much as £100 every 20 seconds. Continue reading
Rowland Atkinson – University of Sheffield
Our culture is creating spaces of exception – places and experiences that allow us to dehumanise and exert our total will over others, or representations of others. This is the argument that Tom Rodgers and I made in this article which can be read fully and freely via the link.
This is a two-page summary of that article for the lay reader, an attempt to distill a fairly complex argument into a few paragraphs. Around us today we see the mainstreaming of more extreme forms of sexual and violent conduct. This is a fairly well-worn point to make. But the point today is that we do so through ever more easily accessed interfaces that include video game consoles, mobile phones, tablets, networked televisions and so on. Access to these points of access is also more or less unregulated, as any parent of a teenager will tell you. Alongside these means of accessing media the content of these spaces is not only more explicit, violent and largely unregulated, it is often interactive in environments that are photo-realistic (videogames) or involve interacting with other people (such as the use of webcams connected to remote places at which we can make requests for ‘whatever we want’). These spaces are relatively new, but more importantly they invoke a different kind of engagement with others that invokes a capacity to engage our desires, to rampage, to rape, to degrade, to observe. Whether we believe the impact of these engagements with real and virtual environments and actors is another question, but certainly the idea of spaces of cultural exception in which we can, and are encouraged to do whatever we want by providers of these services raises important questions about who ‘we’ are and where as a globally linked culture, we are going and the harms involved in these technologically mediated social changes.
Many accounts of crime and harm stress the decline in the volume of crime and in homicide globally. These trends are well evidenced but belie the fact that many forms of violence persist, have enormous variability between countries and key victim groups as well as being frequently under-reported. The idea that we are becoming more civilized can be undone fairly swiftly by some easy web searching. If we chose to do so we can experience any form of sexual conduct, real and staged forms of violent atrocity and the ‘fails’ and voyeurism of much online culture. These image- spaces in which violence and harm is experienced and indeed celebrated are important aspects of our culture today. In light of these changes it seems important to consider the kind of ‘state of suspension’ we find ourselves in as we unendingly flit between both the reality and infinite digital spectacle of crime, violence and social harm around us via online media.
In the article we tried to develop the concept of a ‘murder box’. The murder box is a way of thinking about how we privately engage in what are ultimately mass experiences of harm, extreme and sadistic pleasures that are increasingly shared aspects of our social condition. We can slip into violent sandbox games (the usual example to offer here is Grand Theft Auto precisely because it is a very good example of these possibilities) or choose from enormous menus of what sexually interests us. By association, hyperlinks and recommendations our initial tastes and ideas can be reformed and connected to more extreme practices. Crucially, our experiences are shaped in what feel like enclosed and private spaces of experience that allow us to do away with the idea that we are morally obliged to others or that we risk some kind of infraction. A quick read of the straplines for many pornographic websites reveals a world in which we are invited to do what we want, to experience anything with an unending supply of avatars, actors or passive (mostly female) participants who are there just for us. In the world of videogaming the trope of all-powerful, hyper-masculine destroyer is too frequent to be noticeable, as is the vague use of a background state of emergency that justifies extreme violence to ‘terrorists’. Whether we might be concerned about these experiences is another question. Who is being harmed? Who cares? Could such outlets for raw desire help to reduce ‘real’ violence? Kids get old pretty quick these days, they can handle this. Many such responses seem to suggest we are in denial about the relationship between our new-found freedoms to do what we want online and retaining a hold on notions of humanity, reciprocity, altruism or behaviour that is conducive to a sense of togetherness and positive identity. Such ideas may indeed feel like fuzzy nonsense to you, or perhaps they need to be rendered in such terms because the enormity of challenging or redirecting these cultural shifts (embedded in many ways in what some refer to as geek masculinity) either appears impossible or because we would not want to see these spaces closed down because of our own needs. These are uncomfortable possibilities but plausible nevertheless.
When I used to lecture my criminology students I would tell them that snuff movies were not real but that the possibility that one had been made was an open question. Today it is possible for a child with a wifi connection to watch a series of beheadings. The desensitising and traumatising possibilities of these available media do indeed seem worrying. Worse, the desire for profit underlies the ways in which uncomfortable or appalling forms of pornography are produced for sale via monthly subscriptions across globally networked internet systems. The idea that simply nothing is wrong here or that this is just ‘ok’ seems, to put it mildly, hard to sustain. The next question, what we might do about the hidden harms of our culture, is much harder.
Anthony Ellis and Daniel Briggs
“Remember, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” is the firm instruction and advice that is given to ‘Doug’, played by American actor Justin Bartha, as he is about to embark on his ‘bachelor party’; his ‘last night of freedom’ before his marriage in the popular comedy film The Hangover. After journeying to Las Vegas with three friends with the intention of just having some drinks together to celebrate Doug’s impending marriage, the following morning his three friends wake up on their hotel room floor, hungover, to find a live tiger in their bathroom, a baby in their wardrobe, a chicken wandering aimlessly around empty wine bottles, beer cans, clothes and broken furniture strewn across the floor, and ‘Doug’, the groom, missing. Told through a series of flashbacks as the characters attempt to piece together the night’s events and find their missing compatriot under a mist of collective amnesia, the film focuses upon one night of seemingly unintended extreme drink and drug fuelled revelry that involves deviant and criminal behaviour. The film was released in 2009 and was greeted with positive reviews from critics; earning it the accolade of one of the highest grossing films worldwide during the year of its release. Continue reading
Thomas Raymen, Plymouth University
Members of the Deviant Leisure research network recently attended the American Society of Criminology Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. During our time in New Orleans, there were certainly plenty of experiences and observations that were of interest to a band of critical criminologists interested in crime, harm, and commodified leisure. There were the obvious seductions and temptations of Bourbon Street and the French Quarter, in which many of us enthusiastically immersed ourselves. We toured around the fascinating and eerie ‘Museum of Death’. We observed racial abuse and sexual harassment associated with the tradition of ‘flashing’ in exchange for Mardi Gras beads (Redmon, 2015); and we had discussions with locals about the political state of the US, the rise of Donald Trump and racial violence. In many ways, it was the ideal location for the conference—a festival of criminology and deviant leisure.
However, the topic of this blog post is about my reflections on a different and perhaps more mundane deviant leisure experience in which several of us participated during our time in Louisiana. This was a trip to the Whitney Plantation, a former slave plantation that now offers guided tours of the plantation site. The tour presents an education and a history about the horrors of slavery, with a focus on the lived experience of enslavement and plantation life through both touring the buildings and grounds, but also the historically recorded narratives of former slaves themselves. The Whitney Plantation continues to shape the inequalities of New Orleans today, as the family name of the plantation persists in the banks, financial institutions and other prestigious buildings of the New Orleans landscape.