Klepac on Barak
Integrating Barak: The Theory, Approach, and Perspective of a Visionary Criminologist by Matthew J. Klepac.
In the essay “Criminologist as Witness,” distinguished Professor Richard Quinney (2006: 347) states, “One’s biography as a criminologist can be traced as a journey of witnessing.” The following essay is an attempt to trace the criminological journey of Gregg Barak. I use the term “attempt” because Barak, a Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Eastern Michigan University, has traveled the mental, physical, and emotional terrains of the criminological enterprise far and wide. In fact, Barak’s latest work, Criminology: An Integrated Approach (2009), explores previously unmapped cognitive territory and promises to be the most complete and sophisticated treatment of criminological integration ever written. Although Barak’s journey is far from over, he has now reached an important destination, what is without a doubt the peak of a previously uncharted theoretical landscape. I am speaking of course of Barak’s unique perspective, theory, and approach to criminological integration.
Having studied the development of criminological theory, I believe that Professor Barak has finally articulated the great passage to superior understandings of crime, criminals, and criminality which has eluded criminology, as well as many other disciplines within the social sciences, for far too long. However, I also believe that in order to fully appreciate this new and relatively unexplored intellectual region that Barak has brought us to in his latest work; we must first examine the path he travelled to reach the “lost city of comprehensive understanding.” Here I am of course referring to his journey of witnessing. While Barak has brought us all to a truly exciting new site on the theoretical landscape of criminology, we must at all times be cognizant of the fact that this journey has been one of witnessing much of the painful ugliness that so insidiously plagues our social world; inequality, oppression, the infliction of physical, symbolic, and psychological violence and the harm and human suffering they cause. In short, Barak’s journey of witnessing is characterized by his poignant observations of far reaching and ever-present wickedness of social injustices across the globe. As a student of Barak’s work I have come to realize the ways in which these observations have shaped this criminologist’s life course. It has been said that necessity is the mother of all invention, and I am quite convinced that Barak’s astute observations and masterful comprehension of social injustice brought about for him the necessity that has given birth to his visionary brand of criminological integration.
Who exactly is Gregg Barak, the theoretical trailblazer who has invested immeasurable amounts of intellectual energy and spent the entirety of his distinguished career searching for a more complete understanding of crime, criminals, criminality, and ultimately, the discipline of criminology itself? Barak was born (1948) and raised in an upper-middle class suburban neighborhood (Beverlywood) in West Los Angeles. As an undergraduate and graduate student Barak attended the University of California at Berkeley where he thought he would study law and return to Los Angeles to practice. However, as it turns out Barak was diverted from pursuing a legal career when he found himself seduced by what was then called radical or the people’s criminology. In fact, Barak is one of only a handful of criminologists to receive his bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees from the Berkeley School of Criminology, now defunct for some 30 years.
Post-Berkeley, he has held faculty positions at seven universities and administrative positions at three. Recently, he was also appointed as the first Visiting Distinguished Professor and Scholar in the College of Justice & Safety at Eastern Kentucky University. In 2003 Barak became the 27th Fellow of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, and he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Critical Division of the American Society of Criminology in 2007. He has contributed more than 60 articles to the professional literature of criminology. In addition, Barak, whose career as a writer is quite prolific has, either as author or editor, published 16 books on crime, criminal justice, and criminology. As one of the more practiced and knowledgeable travelers throughout the terrain of global criminology, historically as well as presently, Professor Barak has quite possibly “seen and done it all,” and in the process he has managed to have nearly every page of his criminological passport stamped by these experiences.
Barak was awarded his Ph. D. from UC Berkeley in 1974, where he wrote the doctoral dissertation entitled, In Defense of the Poor: The Origins of the Public Defender System in the United States (1900-1920). Since that time he has weighed in on virtually every criminological topic imaginable. Barak is well recognized for his work in several areas, including homelessness, media, violence/nonviolence, criminal law, and human rights. His work has been the subject of much discussion both within as well as outside of the discipline, and many of his works are now widely regarded as obligatory references in criminological literature. He has also constructively critiqued and extensively studied a wide variety of criminological possibilities such as supranational criminology, peacemaking criminology, newsmaking criminology, media representations of law and order, global criminology, transnational crime, social justice, and visionary criminology (http://www.greggbarak.com/).
The following essay examines the work and criminological theory of Professor Barak. The primary focus here is Barak’s integrative theory, perspective, and approach, as well as the ways in which these aspects of his remarkably extensive body of work have evolved throughout the course of his illustrious career. In the process of examining Barak’s take on integration, this essay also addresses the ways in which Barak integrates various knowledges and disciplinary perspectives. I argue that the product of Barak’s integration is a unique combination of various criminologies that go well beyond all previous efforts to develop an integrated approach to the study of crime, criminality, and the discipline of criminology. For the purposes of this review I have chosen to use Barak’s own term “visionary criminology” as an all inclusive reference to what might otherwise be referred to as “Barakian” theory. I have chosen the phrase “visionary criminology” because, considering the extent to which Barak has advanced notions of transdisciplinary criminological integration, I think it best sums up Barak’s theory, approach, and overall perspective in terms of his praxis and professional objectives. Furthermore, as one who has been fortunate enough to have studied other disciplines within the social sciences, such as anthropology, sociology, philosophy, social work, and urban planning, I would also suggest that Barak’s concept of integration has much to offer scholars working within these disciplinary traditions.
This essay is divided into five sections. In this introduction I have discussed Barak’s career and overall theory, approach, and perspective in the broadest of terms. In order to elaborate on this very broad discussion I provide a brief literature review of a number of Barak’s academic publications in section II. I have described this section as brief because Barak has been, and continues to be, after four decades a creative and productive author; thus limited space prohibits a full examination of Barak’s extensive list of journal articles, books, anthologies, and other publications such as his numerous op-ed pieces. Section III explores Barak’s take on his own work, as his views have been expressed to me through personal communications in addition to seminar discussions that occurred during his graduate theory course taken in the winter semester, 2009, at Eastern Michigan University. In section IV, I share with readers my own understandings of Barak’s scholarly and intellectual work in an effort to further elaborate on his criminologically integrated imagination-- what I have chosen to refer to in this essay as “visionary criminology.” Section V, the final section of this essay, provides some concluding remarks on Barak’s integrated theory, approach, and perspective, as well as on the future of integrated criminological theory within both the academy and the applied worlds of criminal and social justice.
II. Literature Review
As I began to write this section it occurred to me that to examine a list of Barak’s publications is like reading the table of contents in an encyclopedia of crime. Since his first publication, “In Defense of the Rich: The Emergence of the Public Defender,” appeared in Crime and Social Justice in 1975, Barak has made it a point to publish on criminological issues that range widely in scope, including terrorism, transnational crime, crimes of the state, media images of crime, peacemaking, pathways to nonviolence, the formation of and the administration of criminal justice and crime control, as well as many more. More broadly, he has also tackled a number of all-embracing political issues such as the impacts of globalization, neoliberalism, the deregulation of multinational corporate conglomerates, and the rapid proliferation of free market capitalism on the social construction of crime and crime control during the contemporary era of postmodernity. Furthermore, throughout his career Professor Barak has demonstrated a fierce determination to address pressing social and civil rights problems in the Untied States, such as homelessness, classism, sexism, homophobia, and racism.
If there is one common theme that runs continuously throughout Barak’s body of work it is the inner-connections delineated between the social relations of inequality, harm, and crime. His well articulated and longstanding critique of these reciprocal relations illustrates the critical/radical aspect of Barak’s visionary criminology. In fact, speaking from my own personal experiences as a graduate student engaged in the study of crime, society, and culture, I discovered that Barak’s approach to integration not only facilitates a richer understanding of justice and injustice, of freedom and repression, but it also provides the theoretical tools necessary to deconstruct traditional and one-dimensional images of crime and criminality, on the one hand, and to rebuild and establish more integrated approaches to crime and justice based upon the blueprint of visionary criminology, on the other hand. In different words, Barak’s theoretical tool box comes fully equipped for the task of reconstructing a comprehensive understanding of crime and crime control that takes into account not only correlation and causality, but also power relations, dialectical relationships, and historical processes. I’ve yet to come across a more comprehensive illustration of why it is far more important that we as criminologists address what should be defined as “the crime of social inequality” and the harms which manifest as both a cause and consequence of these often dangerous and always ubiquitous that “should be a crime,” rather than to foolishly squander our collective energies on fruitless endeavors, such as developing one-dimensional linear theories which have by and large proven themselves insufficient for explaining crime and yet are nonetheless held up as blueprints or models for controlling it. At any rate, more than three decades after his first publication Barak continues to write about the conditions of inequality and the potential for social justice now shared globally by more than six billion human beings (Barak, 2007a).
Throughout his distinguished career Barak expresses in his work a frustration with the limitations of the traditionally one-dimensional theoretical perspectives. For example, Barak’s work on race, class, and gender can be understood as an attempt to show how each of these dimensions of social location interact with one another to shape people’s subjective experiences with crime, criminality, and the criminal justice system. Barak’s work on violence and nonviolence can be thought of as an approach which seeks to account for the reciprocal relationships that exist between pathways, or sets of actions leading to both violence and nonviolence. In addition, Barak’s work on violence is an example of the ways in which he integrates different disciplinary perspectives, levels of analysis, and solutions aimed at instituting transformative justice in the form of modifications to existing policies in the criminal justice system.
In his award winning and classic book, Gimme Shelter: A Social History of Homelessness in Contemporary America (1991), Barak discusses the connections between neoliberal capitalism and the gross deprivation of basic recourses that leads to, and also comes to characterize, homelessness in the United States. Barak divides the book into two parts. The first part is entitled The Problem of Homelessness and the second part is entitled The Complexity of the Problem. Barak states that the purpose of the book is to confront the realities of the homeless, as well as the condition of homelessness itself. As such, the work examines the representative myths regarding homelessness. In doing so, Barak argues that these myths are based upon prevalent cultural stereotypes of a social group he refers to as “the old homeless.” These stereotypes include images of “inebriated bums,” “the mentally ill,” and “bag ladies,” which commonly accompany our society’s prevailing mental images of “the old homeless,” as well as the homeless in general. Given the persistence of such misconceptions in present-day American culture, it is interesting to note that Barak wrote Gimme Shelter almost twenty years ago. In an effort to demystify homelessness, Barak places the aesthetics of homelessness into a social perspective where he confronts representations and perceptions of homelessness in American popular culture and mass media. Throughout this book Barak contends that whether one is speaking in terms of narrowly defined federal, state, and local laws, or more broadly defined crimes against humanity, the homeless are both victimized and criminalized as a social group.
In his edited anthology, Representing O.J.: Murder, Criminal Justice, and Mass Culture (1996), Barak brings together a collection of original essays that deconstruct the media frenzy and public’s fascination that surrounded the O.J. Simpson murder trial. Together along with the other authors included in this anthology, Barak dissects the Simpson case from a variety of interdisciplinary perspectives. Thus taken as a whole, this anthology examines the Simpson case and the public and media attention it received from the perspectives of law, sociology, psychology, anthropology, and communication studies. Furthermore, this book also incorporates different perspectives based upon class, race, and gender representations. Barak states in the preface to Representing O.J. that this book is not so much about Simpson per se, but rather it’s about the legal, social, and economic representations of the Simpson case during the time when it captivated media audiences in the mid 90’s. By taking this approach Barak and his fellow contributors to this volume illustrate the complex reciprocal relationships that exist between the producers and consumers of mass media imagery.
In the essay “International Tribalism and the Tenth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders” Barak explains the connection between globalization and trends in transnational crime. Barak (2000a: A14) defines international tribalism as “the tendency of the world’s cultures to isolate and divide the ‘global village’ into geopolitical polar spheres.” Barak argues that this approach is both divisive and ineffective at a time when the world is increasingly becoming interconnected and borderless. In this essay Barak asserts that the UN Congress’ discussions of crime control and prevention have failed to address the causes and origins of crime, including the rapid expansion of transnational criminal enterprises and organizations. True to form, Barak also discusses the reciprocal relationships that exist between worldwide economic inequality and transnational crime.
In “Repressive versus Restorative and Social Justice: A Case for Integrative Praxis” (2000b), Barak argues that the emancipation of theory and practice proceed together. According to Barak, theories and practices of various forms of repressive, restorative, and social justice exist within the social reality domains that are jointly, if not interdependently, already represented as contemporary criminal justice. Thus, we must first confront these realities if we as criminologists hope to incorporate transformative justice into an applied application of visionary criminology.
In two essays, a “Comparative Criminology: A Global View” (2000c) and an "A Comparative Perspective on Crime and Crime Control,” the Introduction to the edited study of 15 nation-states, Crime and Crime Control: A Global View (2000d), Barak and his contributing colleagues from around the world examine comparatively the ways in which globalization and neoliberalism are connected to both economic exploitation and crime (see also, 2001). Here, Barak defines comparative criminology as the systematic and theoretically informed comparison of crime and crime control. In his collaborative study Barak used a world-systems style approach, dividing nations into three different categorical classifications; Developed, Post-traditional, and Developing. In the introduction to the global reader, Barak begins by calling into question the tendencies of criminologists to turn toward either/or dichotomies when attempting to explain globalization, transnational crime, and the connection that exists between the two. He also emphasizes the fact that both global changes and local cultures are integral components necessary in developing refined analyses of crime and crime control on a global scale. This aspect of Barak’s analysis illustrates the inclusiveness of his vision of integration, which serves as one of the theoretical staples of his visionary criminology.
In the book Class, Race, Gender, and Crime: The Social Realities of Justice in America (2007, 2001) Barak and co-authors Paul Leighton and Jeanne Flavin discuss the ways in which class, race, and gender intersect to form people’s experiences with and within the criminal justice system. In chapter one the authors point out that while the U.S. constitution promises equal protection under the law, most Americans realize that in general the more wealth one possesses the more freedoms they enjoy. The same is true in terms of race and gender, as “whiteness” and “maleness” are considered to be valued commodities in our sociocultural economy of symbolic exchange. In other words, the intersection of class, race, and gender matters in terms of one’s experiences with crime and the criminal justice system. In fact, Barak and co-authors illustrate throughout this book that quite often in the U.S. being wealthy, white, and male not only enables one to evade the law and avoid punishment, but also to avoid having your bad behavior and misdeeds criminalized in the first place. Thus, more often than not, when politicians, reporters, and criminal justice workers in the U.S. talk about crime what they are really talking about is street crime or other types of crime which are primarily committed by nonwhite males and females. It is also the case that nonwhite, less wealthy segments of society are policed more heavily than their wealthier and whiter counterparts. The authors argue that the criminal justice system not only reflects class, race, and gender biases, but also creates and reinforces them. The diagram below is intended to illustrate the intersection of these various aspects of social location.
Barak’s integrated analysis of race, class, and gender as it shapes crime and experiences with and within the criminal justice system
Barak’s integrated analysis of race, class, and gender as it shapes crime and experiences with and within the criminal justice system
In his entry to the Encyclopedia of Crime & Punishment (McLaughlin and Muncie, 2002), “Integrative Theories,” Barak discusses the ways in which integrated criminological theories had progressed over the last three decades of the 20th century. In this telling essay, Barak expresses his approval of the ways in which the evolution of criminological theory has unfolded since the introduction of integrated perspectives in the 1970’s. Specifically, he notes that criminologists are increasingly adopting perspectives which are no longer limited by classical versus positivist views, and the traditional one-dimensional approaches to predicting and explaining crime and criminality. Furthermore, Barak sees this new world of criminological theory as postmodern and multicultural. In other words, this is recognition of a need for polyvocality and an acknowledgement of individualized subjective experiences within the world of criminological theorizing. As I argue in the pages to come, this aspect of Barak’s integrated perspective is an example of the lengths that he goes to in order to “out-integrate” competing theorists by developing a more inclusive, as well as more explanatory, integrated form of criminology. This is just another example illustrating the visionary nature of Barak’s theoretical perspective and approach toward criminology (see also, 2005c).
In his book Violence and Nonviolence: Pathways to Understanding (2003a) Barak provides readers with a comprehensive examination of violence in the United States. In this work, Barak integrates disciplinary perspectives as well as various levels of analysis. The book is divided into three parts. “Part I: Types of Violence” examines various types of violence as they occur within structural, institutional, and interpersonal contexts, “Part II: Pathways to Violence” examines the various routes that lead to violence, and “Part III: Pathways to Nonviolence” examines the alternate routes that lead to nonviolent outcomes. Below are three diagrams; the first illustrates Barak’s three levels of analysis, the second illustrates the integration/overlap of these three levels, and the third diagram illustrates the reciprocal relationship that exists between violence and nonviolence. This last diagram is intended to illustrate that choosing pathways to nonviolence not only represents an alternative choice, but also directly decreases violence by not fueling ongoing and emerging conflicts.
Barak’s levels of analysis in pathways to violence and nonviolence
Barak’s levels of analysis in pathways to violence and nonviolence
Barak’s analysis of the reciprocal relationship between violence and nonviolence
Barak’s analysis of the reciprocal relationship between violence and nonviolence
In Part I of Violence and Nonviolence Barak attempts to demystify violence by contextualizing it within a contemporary sociocultural perspective. He begins by drawing distinctions between sanctioned and unsanctioned violence, reminding readers that there are those violences that we abhor, such as assault, murder, and rape, as well as those violences which some of us may actively support, such as the death penalty, war, and neocolonialism. Next he examines violence as an integral part of American life, both historically as well as in the present. In order to place violence within a contemporary American sociocultural perspective Barak explores the various types of violence experienced in our society today. Among those he discusses are; suicide, class, ethnicity, gender, domestic, youth, gang, sexual, elderly, workplace, corporate, and state violence. The final three chapters of this section discuss Barak’s three levels of analysis interpersonal, institutional, and structural (illustrated in the diagrams above).
Interpersonal violence addresses crimes such as homicide, juvenile victimization, rape, stalking, and both physical and sexual child abuse. Institutional violence occurs within organizational/institutional settings; such as the family, school, church, or penal system. Structural violence refers to various types of violence that occur as a consequence of existing inequalities pervasive throughout the social structure. Examples of structural violence include postcolonial, corporate, class, and terrorist violence. Barak also discusses the overlap between these levels of analysis and, once again true to form, the ways in which different levels of violence occur as a result of social inequality.
In Part II Barak examines various social pathways which tend to lead to violent outcomes. In chapter 5, “Explanations of Violence,” Barak discusses three types of theories pertaining to violence. Ad-hoc theories are explanations of crime which tend to be one-dimensional and account for only one or a few of the many components of interpersonal, institutional, and structural violence. Life course theories are explanations of crime which tend to focus on risk factors which are more prevalent during certain phases of the life cycle. Third, Barak discusses his reciprocal theory of pathways to violence and nonviolence, which entails a discussion of the dialectical relationship between adversarialism and mutualism. In the next chapter Barak discusses media and violence. In this chapter Barak addresses the American fascination with violent media, such as the O.J. trial and television shows such as Cops and America’s Most Wanted. In doing so he addresses the audience’s reception of violent media content, as well as media distortions of violent images, and violence in the cinema of postmodernity. In the next chapter Barak discusses sexuality and violence. Beginning with a philosophical approach Barak explains the social connections that exist between sexuality and violence in American culture, in evolutionary approaches toward understanding nature and nurture, in relational and evolutionary models of aggression and nonaggression, and finally in the ways in which sexualities of difference and hierarchy are socially constructed. Barak ends the chapter by discussing the connections between sexual difference, gender identity, and violence.
In Part III of V and NV Barak examines various pathways to nonviolence. The author begins this section with a chapter on recovering from violence. Here Barak puts forth a reciprocal approach to violence recovery citing several examples of recovery from interpersonal violence. Barak concludes this section by discussing perpetrators and bystanders. He also discusses institutional and structural recovery, subsections in which Barak lists alternate forms of recovery and six principles. These principles, which were introduced in “A Time for Justice, Not Vengeance: An Open Letter to the Labor Movement” are as follows; 1) Promote solidarity, 2) Support working people, 3) Protect civil liberties, 4) Stop the cycle of violence, 5) Address the sources of violence, and 6) Seek justice, not vengeance. In chapter 9 Barak illustrates some of the ways in which these principles have been shown to work in the 20th century, at a time at which the world witnessed a number of success stories in the saga of the struggle for nonviolent social change characterized by replacing paradigms of adversarialism with those of mutualism.
In “Revisionist History, Visionary Criminology, and Needs-Based Justice” (2003b) Barak addresses the current state of radical and critical criminologies. In this essay Barak suggests that rather than mourn the death of, and asking whatever happened to the radical and critical criminologies of the 1970’s, criminologists would be better off thinking about the continuities that remain. In other words, Barak argues that it is more productive to examine those aspects of radical and critical criminologies which have survived in teaching, research, and practice. He suggests that such an examination may reveal that radical and critical criminologies are as much alive today, and perhaps even less marginalized than in the past. Also in this essay, Barak discusses the debate over the devolution or evolution of radical/critical criminology. He discusses the tensions that exist between radical and establishment criminologies, as well as the tension that exists between postmodern and positivist approaches. In the second section, which addresses reflexivity, Barak traces the historical development of radical and critical criminologies. Finally, in the concluding section of this essay Barak discusses “needs based” and “transformative” justice, as well as the need for theoretical and disciplinary inclusion and peacemaking criminology.
In his essay “A Reciprocal Approach to Peacemaking Criminology: Between Adversarialism and Mutualism” (2005a) Barak characterizes the dialectics of mutualism and adversarialism while arguing for a reciprocal approach to peacemaking criminology. Barak argues that in the struggle between the theoretical perspectives of peacemaking and warmaking criminologies peacemaking is too often isolated from the process of actually making peace. Barak suggests that pathways to peace can be divided into two separate categories. First, positive peace is characterized by humanism and mutualism. The second category is negative peace, which is characterized by violence and adversarialism. Barak argues that in order to achieve positive peace the dominant paradigm of adversarialism must be done away with and replaced by mutualism and humanistic approaches to positive peace. The author also argues that approaches aimed at developing nonviolent pathways to positive peace should be carried out within an inclusive, integrative, and interdisciplinary framework.
In the book chapter, “A Critical Perspective on Violence,” written for the edited volume, Advancing Critical Criminology: Theory and Application (2006), Barak argues for integrating comprehensive levels of analysis. In particular, Barak argues that in order to develop a satisfactory understanding of individual and collective pathways to violence researchers must account for the reciprocal relationships that exist between three different levels of analysis; structural, institutional, and interpersonal. In this essay Barak takes a critical perspective and explores the most prominent scientific and academic theories of violence. Barak suggests that nearly all mainstream theories of violence begin as ad hoc explanations. Just as we see in V & NV he also contends that nearly all mainstream theories tend to be incomplete for two reasons. First, these theories tend to focus almost exclusively on interpersonal explanations of violence, thus missing structural and institutionalized forms of violence. Furthermore, despite the disproportionate focus on interpersonal forms of violence, the majority of ad hoc theories tend to miss several components of interpersonal violence which are necessary for understanding its causes and origins. These theories attempt to account for observed regularities in various forms of isolated violence in self-contained violent events. As such, these theories seek explanations of violence in single entities, or dimensions of social location, such as class, race, ethnicity, or gender. Upon examining these singular dimensions, the traditional ad hoc explanations then search for related differences in biology, psychology, culture, and mass communication.
Interpersonal explanations of violence are classified as one of four types depending on where they fall within categorical classifications of two different dimensions; 1) origins of cause, and 2) nature of cause. The “origins of cause” dimension locates the origins of interpersonal violence within either the internal or external categories. The “nature of cause” dimension locates the nature of interpersonal violence within either the motivations or constraints categories. Barak identifies six problems with ad hoc explanations of interpersonal violence. First, he argues that traditional ad hoc explanations of violence are overly deterministic and one dimensional. Second, he argues that such explanations overemphasize one of four binary combinations; 1) external/motivated, 2) internal/motivated, 3) external/concentrated, and 4) internal/concentrated. Barak contends that this overemphasis results in these theories’ relative neglect of the other three binary combinations. Third, Barak contends that traditional ad hoc theories of interpersonal violence represent one-dimensional linear theories of interpersonal violence, thus ignoring reciprocal relationships. Fourth, Barak points out that as these models are generally static, or stable, models of violence, they tend to ignore the dynamic processes by which the qualitative nature of interpersonal violence has evolved. Fifth, these theories ignore the interconnection, or overlap, between interpersonal, institutional, and structural violence. Finally, sixth, these theories fail to consider the factors involved in the desistence of antisocial behavior.
In his essay “Toward an Integrative Study of International Crimes and State-Corporate Criminality: A Reciprocal Approach to Gross Human Rights Violations” (2008a) Barak suggests that supranational criminology should aspire to become not only a multi-disciplinary and comparative field of study, but one which also demonstrates an appreciation of the historical record. In other words, Barak suggests that in order to define its present praxis the newly inaugurated supranational criminology must simultaneously consider the past and the future, what has been done, as well as future possibilities for what could be done. This position serves as a good example of Barak’s view of integration, which is not limited to theoretical or disciplinary concerns. As this review of Barak’s works has demonstrated, and will continue to do so in the pages to come, the author is also concerned with integrating understandings of temporal dimensions, levels of analysis, dimensions of social location, and multicultural perspectives.
In “Doing Newsmaking Criminology from within the Academy” (2007b) Barak revisits the concept of newsmaking criminology, which he introduced over 20 years ago. Newsmaking criminology is defined by Barak as “…the conscious efforts and activities of criminologists to interpret, influence, or shape the representation of “newsworthy” items about crime and justice” (2007b: 1). In a research note, “Mediatizing Law and Order: Applying Cottle’s Architecture of Communicative Frames to the Social Construction of Crime and Justice” (2007c), Barak argues that in order to study the interactions between concepts such as law and order and crime and justice one must also study the ways in which these phenomena are socially constructed within popular culture and mass communications. In both essays Barak raises awareness of the reciprocal relationships that exist between producers and consumers of media, as well as what could and should be the role of the criminologist in this process.
In a recent op ed piece “Terrorism, Economic Crisis, and State-Corporate Crime” (2008b) Barak discusses the connection between the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the reaction of the Bush administration, and the subsequent wave of white-collar crime which has devastated the U.S. economy. Barak points out that efforts by the Bush II administration to establish the Department of Homeland Security and reorganize various entities within the criminal justice system, such as the FBI, have paved the way for rampant white-collar and state-corporate-crime. Barak notes that the Homeland Security Act of 2002, which created the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), has been the most dramatic alteration of our government since President Truman created the Department of Defense by combining the various branches of the military. In the relatively short time since it was established, the DHS has experienced multiple failures. For example, in addition to its failure to replace those FBI personnel who were reassigned to fight the war on terror, the Department of Homeland Security also failed to protect the residents of New Orleans during the Katrina disaster and mishandled rescue and recovery operations in the city.
In a forthcoming book chapter, “Crimes of the State: Revisiting Crimes by the Capitalist State” (2010) Barak returns to his classic 1991 anthology, Crimes by the Capitalist State: An Introduction to State Criminality. CBCS, which was the first book devoted entirely to the study of state crime, presented case studies of state crime from North America, South America, Europe, and Australia. One of the most fascinating, and perhaps most practical, aspects of Barak’s visionary criminology of integration is that, unlike many other integrated theories which focus almost exclusively on street crime, Barak’s approach facilitates an analysis of transnational, state, and corporate crime.
In his latest book Criminology: An Integrated Approach (2009) Barak breaks down his understanding of integration within the context of criminological theory and praxis. Barak states that the purpose of this work is to provide an integrated approach to the study of criminology and criminal justice. The book is divided into three parts. In “Part I: A Unifying Analysis,” Barak contextualizes the relationship between crime and crime controls both within the U.S., as well as globally. In “Part II: Strands of Criminological Thought,” Barak contextualizes different varieties of criminological thought. This section contains chapters on Biology, Psychology, Sociology, and Legal/Political studies preceded by a chapter on the historical and philosophical examination of the development of crime, crime control, and the relationships between them over the past three centuries. In short, Barak argues that the historical development of crime and its representations are shaped by philosophical tendencies which have lead up to present-day neoliberalism within the context of capitalist nation-states. “Part III: Integrating Criminological Strands” is divided into two chapters. In chapter 11 Barak examines eight exemplary approaches to integrated criminology in the contexts of both transnational criminology and transdisciplinary criminology. In chapter 12, the final chapter of the book, Barak discusses globalization and its impact on the social construction of crime and crime control. In addition, Barak discusses the emergence of a global criminology, as well as the resulting implications for crime reduction and improving social justice worldwide.
In the opening chapter of Criminology: An Integrated Approach, Barak spells out exactly what is meant by such terms as integrated criminology or integrating criminologies. According to Barak’s (2009: 7-8) definition of integration:
…integration refers to any explanatory analyses or frameworks of crime, crime control, criminalization, criminal justice, and criminality that attempt to weave together multiple strands from within and/or across the various social and behavioral bodies of knowledge. While this work is an integrated approach and relies heavily on multidisciplinary constructions of crime and crime control, it does not strive to be an interdisciplinary text. Rather, the goals here are to establish intra- and transdisciplinary models of the inter-relations of crime, law, and justice.
III. Barak on Barak: Personal Communication
Dr. Barak was extremely generous with his time and materials throughout the duration of my writing this paper as we engaged in several email and hallway conversations pertaining to his theory and perspective. Here I present the contents of an email that came about as a consequence of our discussions. It’s important to note that the comments below are a response to some misconceptions that I had of Professor Barak’s work. Thus the following correspondence is from an email in which the Professor was kind enough to disabuse me of some of those misconceptions.
“…or, more importantly, when you brought up my "hating" the 1998 Integrating Criminologies, well that is not exactly the case. That book's statement was a big success and became an "obligatory" reference on integration, which was also accompanied by Integrative Criminology, a 599 page reprinting of articles with an introduction by yours truly, in the series The International Library of Criminology, Criminal Justice, and Penology, which cemented my position in the field of criminology. Previously, I had edited the first book on state crime, Crimes By the Capitalist State: An introduction to State Criminality |(1991). The same year my award winning 1991 (Outstanding Academic Sociology Books by the Librarian Association of America-- 14 titles of 6000 reviewed) Gimme Shelter: A Social Historical of Homelessness in Contemporary America was also published.
Then my coined term, newsmaking criminology and the book Media, Process, the Social Construction of Crime: Studies in Newsmaking Criminology (1994) as well as the other edited volume of that year, Varieties of Criminology: Readings from a Dynamic Discipline 1994, brought together original articles covering the modernists and postmodernists at the time, followed by Representing O.J.: Murder, Criminal Justice, and Mass Culture 1996—all helped to establish me and set the stage for Integrating Criminologies.
Back to it: I don't hate it, but it's Criminology: An Integrated Approach 2009 that you have read that I want people to remember me for. The previous statement different from the present one as I noted in reading in class from my preface to it, is the book that will be more accessible and usable. People, bright people, misunderstood what I was doing or trying to do with the 1998 book, such as Matt Robinson, despite its success. So, it is not that I hate the book, I just want the new book 11 years later, to have the "last" say so folks can move to where I am perhaps with less confusion.
Now then, another point you raised in class about peacemaking and newsmaking as practice, absolutely or praxis as we prefer to say. But all of my work, theoretical, policy, historical, social, psychological, political economy, mediated, etc. all of it is always applied. I have never written a book, beginning with my very first, In Defense of Whom?
A Critique of Criminal Justice Reform, (1980) that did not have policy implications. And, as you discovered with the new text, the last chapter lays out a manifesto of sorts. Class, Race, Gender, and Crime: The Social Realities of Justice in America (2007 2nd edition) does so in the last chapter as is the same for Violence and Nonviolence: Pathways to Understanding (2003). So, to me notions of theory versus practice, imagination versus policy are false dualities or dichotomies of the Western mind set (Personal communication 4/18/09).
IV. The Author’s Take on Barak’s Integration
In the social sciences, disciplines such as criminology use theory as a tool to facilitate a greater understanding of the subject(s) we aim to study. Theory is what we use to describe, explain, or predict social phenomena. As every student of theory eventually comes to realize, most theories explain some social phenomena, or at least some aspect of them, but no single theory has thus far demonstrated the capability of explaining every aspect of all social phenomena. As such, we develop “approaches” that enable us to use multiple theories, multiple perspectives on knowledge, and multiple disciplinary approaches. I would argue that Barak’s approach to using integrative theory comes closer to the ideal of total integration than any other theory in the social sciences. One result of Barak’s work has been a greater appreciation of the limitations of simple one dimensional theoretical frameworks, and a greater acknowledgement of reciprocal relationships. However, a shared recognition of the limitations of one dimensional theoretical frameworks does not guarantee a shared understanding of these limitations. Nor does it guarantee a shared vision or common approach to addressing and ultimately overcoming such limitations. Thus, it may be the case that integrationist criminology will bring about more debate than consensus amongst criminologists in the near future.
As Henry and Lanier explain in the overview to the final section of their edited volume, The Essential Criminology Reader (2006), beginning in the 1970’s and continuing to the present day, there has been a growing consensus among criminologists and their students regarding the limited explanatory capabilities of traditional, simple, or one dimensional criminological theory. In light of this recognition, many criminologists have turned to theoretical integration as a means of addressing such limitations. Essentially, theoretical integration entails combining two or more theories, or selected elements from two or more theories, in an attempt to create a new theory with greater predictive or explanatory power. While defining theoretical integration is not a difficult task, formulating specific brands of integrated criminological theory and explaining them is something else entirely.
Integrationists must consider a number of factors when formulating their approaches. Criminological theory is a vast terrain of perspectives which are not bound by culture, geographic region, philosophy, discipline, or static definitions of crime. Conceptions of crime and criminality vary from culture to culture and region to region. Criminologists are educated in different philosophical traditions, which are inherited by students, modified, and passed on. Virtually all academic disciplines address the issue of crime in some form or fashion. The fact that medicine, biology, psychology, anthropology, sociology, social work, political science, and media studies are but a few of the disciplines to weigh in on the issues of crime and crime control is indicative of the ubiquity of crime and desires to understand crime within our culture. Definitions of crime are not static; they vary greatly across time and space. Definitions of crime and criminality reflect notions of justice, which history has shown to be equally dynamic. In short, criminologists interested in integration have no shortage of theoretical choices when formulating their approaches.
For example, in Matthew Robinson’s chapter for the Henry and Lanier reader, “The Integrated Systems Theory of Antisocial Behavior,” the author formulates an approach based on quantitative analysis and measurable variables. Robinson is a strict positivist, and as such his vision of integrated criminological theory not only contains quantitative variables, measurements, and predictions, it requires them. Barak’s vision of integrated theory is more difficult to summarize. As Robinson points out, Barak is not a strict positivist; rather he combines aspects of social science with humanistic and psychological perspectives. While Barak’s approach also incorporates measurable variables, unlike Robinson’s approach Barak’s is not limited to testable propositions and quantitative variables. Robinson contends that Barak’s approach is not truly an integrated theory. He argues that while Barak’s theory is perhaps the most general theory ever developed, incorporating transdisciplinary perspectives as well as an eclectic mix of criminological theories and concepts, Barak’s theory actually creates unnecessary conceptual and disciplinary boundaries. Robinson believes that these boundaries obstruct pathways to integration rather tan facilitating it (Robinson, 2006).
Barak’s vision of integration differs significantly from Robinson’s. Based upon my reading of Barak, I would suggest that he sees integration as a means of combining different types of knowledges to produce new variations, rather than simply “discovering” new forms of positivist knowledge as Robinson seeks to. In this sense, I think it is fair to say that Barak’s conception of knowledge and by extension, his vision of integration, is much broader than Robinson’s. In addition, Barak’s approach is designed to address the limitations of simple one-dimensional linear theories. Barak is concerned with identifying overlaps between different levels of analysis, reciprocal effects, and interactions between different social attributes such as class, race, and gender. In addition, Barak discusses dialectical relationships, such as the relationship between the paradigms of adversarialism and mutualism. In short, Barak’s approach seems to me to be more inclusive of alternative knowledges; he is at once postmodern and positivistic, sociological and psychological, scientific and humanistic.
Barak’s approach is designed to address the limitations of simple one-dimensional linear theory. After reviewing this sample of Barak’s works, one may ask whether he has gone too far. Barak has identified and integrated three levels of analysis for phenomena such as violence and inequality. He has argued for integrating different disciplinary approaches. He integrates positivist and postmodern approaches. He integrates race, class, and gender. He draws connections between inequalities, harms, and the construction of crime. In his analyses he notes that the construction of crime is a collaborative effort on the part of the powerful classes who identify “dangerous classes” (classes which may pose a danger to their privilege and interests), and the real dangerous classes themselves. He notes the importance of popular culture and news media in these processes. He has critiqued and been involved in the construction of criminological possibilities such as supranational criminology, peacemaking criminology, newsmaking criminology, community justice, and visionary criminology. He has argued at various times for social, restorative, and transformative justice to replace repressive justice. It is as if Barak uses crime as a lens through which to see the world, its inequalities, its possibilities, and the interconnectedness of it all.
Barak, Gregg. 1974. On the Origins of the Public Defender System in the United States
(1900-1920). Doctoral Dissertation. University of California at Berkeley.
___________ 1975. “In Defense of the Rich: The Emergence of the Public Defender.” Crime and Social Justice No. 3:1-14.
___________ 1980. In Defense of Whom? A Critique of Criminal Justice Reform Cincinnati: Anderson Publishers.
___________ 1991. Gimme Shelter: A Social History of Homelessness in Contemporary America New York: Praeger.
___________ 1996. (ed.) Representing O.J.: Murder, Criminal Justice, and Mass Culture. Albany, NY: Harrow & Heston.
___________ 2000a. “International Tribalism and the Tenth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders.” Ann Arbor News, May: A14.
___________ 2000b. "Repressive versus Restorative and Social Justice: A Case for An Integrative Praxis," Contemporary Justice Review, vol. 3 (1).
___________ 2000c. "Comparative Criminology: A Global View," The Critical Criminologist, vol. 10, No. 2.
___________ 2000d. "Introduction: A Comparative Perspective on Crime and Crime Control," in Crime and Crime Control: A Global View, edited by G. Barak. Westport, CN: Greenwood Press.
___________ 2001. "Crime and Crime Control in An Age of Globalization: A Theoretical Dissection." Critical Criminology: An International Journal, vol. 10, no. 1.
___________ 2002. “Integrative Criminology.” Encyclopedia of Crime & Punishment,
edited by E. McLaughlin and J. Muncie. London: Sage
___________ 2003a. Violence and Nonviolence: Pathways to Understanding.
Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
___________ 2003b. “Revisionist History, Visionary Criminology, and Needs-Based Justice.” Contemporary Justice Review vol. 6, no. 2.
___________ 2005a. “A Reciprocal Approach to Peacemaking Criminology: On
Adversarialism and Mutualism.” Theoretical Criminology, 9.
___________ 2005b. “Applying Integrated Theory: A Reciprocal Theory of Violence
and Nonviolence.” In The Essential Criminology Reader, edited by S. Henry and
M. Lanier. Boulder, CO: Westview, pp. 336-346.
___________ 2005c . "Integrative Criminology," a Theoretical Perspective Entry in The Sage Dictionary of Criminology, edited by Eugene McLaughlin and John Muncie. London: Sage.
___________ 2006. “A Critical Perspective on Violence.” In Advancing Critical Criminology: Theory and Application, edited by Walter S. DeKeseredy and Barbara Perry. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.
___________ 2007a. (ed.) Violence, Conflict, and World Order: Critical Conversations on State Sanctioned Justice. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.
___________ 2007b. “Doing Newsmaking Criminology from within the Academy.”
Theoretical Criminology 11 (2).
___________ 2007c. “Mediatizing Law and Order: Applying Cottle’s Architecture of Communicative Frames to the Social Construction of Crime and Justice.” Crime, Media,
Culture vol. 3, no. 1: 101-109.
___________ 2008a. “Toward an Integrative Study of International Crimes and State-Corporate Criminality: A Reciprocal Approach to Gross Human Rights Violations.” In
Supranational Criminology: Towards a Criminology of International Crimes, edited by A. Smeulers and R. Roelof. Antwerp: Intersentia.
__________ 2008b. “Terrorism, Economic Crisis, and State-Corporate Crime” Ann
Arbor News, Dec 12:14A.
___________ 2009. Criminology: An Integrated Approach. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.
___________ 2010. “Crimes of the State: Revisiting Crimes by the Capitalist States.” In
State Crime: Intersections of Criminality, edited by D. Rothe. New Brunswick, NJ:
Rutgers University Press.
Barak, G., P. Leighton, and J. Flavin. 2007. Class, Race, Gender, and Crime: The Social
Realities of Justice in America, 2nd ed. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.
Quinney, Richard (2006). “Criminologist as Witness.” In The Essential Criminology Reader, edited by S. Henry and M. Lanier. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, pp. 347-353.
Robinson, Matt (2006). “The Integrated Systems Theory of Antisocial Behavior.” In The
Essential Criminology Reader, edited by S. Henry and Mark Lanier. Boulder, CO:
Westview Press, pp. 319-335.