Ballads of Blood: The Form and Function of Crime Narratives

  • Kate BatesEmail author


This chapter will continue to justify the strength of a Durkheimian interpretation of nineteenth-century crime and execution broadsides by providing further evidence from modern criminological research into the form and function of crime narratives. Crime narratives have been widely recognised as a form of social and emotional ritual, which fulfil a psychosocial need and provide emotional security in the face of anxiety and disturbance, and this has continued from their origins in primitive myth and folklore to modern news and crime fiction. However, despite their changing form, what has remained central to these human interest stories is their ability to socially integrate by using their often intense emotional potency to contribute to a sense of morally bound communitas. Therefore, this chapter will demonstrate the distinctive way that crime narratives contained in nineteenth-century broadsides can provide an alternative way of presenting and understanding the social and moral impact of crime and punishment.


Broadsides Nineteenth century Durkheim Crime fiction Crime news Popular culture Morality Emotion Anomie Social change Murder Ritual Symbolism Transition Integration Consensus Community 


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© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Liverpool John Moores UniversityLiverpoolUK

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