, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 161-163,
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Date: 17 Aug 2012

Review of Jock Young, The Criminological Imagination

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Half a century ago, American sociologist C. Wright Mills pointed out that the “sociological imagination enables us to grasp history and biography and the relations between the two within society. That is its task and its promise” (Mills 1959:6). In his classic The Sociological Imagination, Mills identified in particular two factors endangering the sociological imagination in his times: grand theory and abstracted empiricism, both of which, he argued, made academics lose contact with social reality.

Five decades later, in the concluding piece of his trilogy,

The other two books are The Exclusive Society and The Vertigo of Late Modernity

The Criminological Imagination, Jock Young traces how abstracted empiricism has expanded on a level “which would have surely astonished Mills himself,” and how in criminology “reality has been lost in a sea of statistical symbols and dubious analysis” (p.viii). Indeed, as Stan Cohen comments on the back cover of the book, “the terms ‘criminology’ and ‘imagi