(p. v ) General Editor's Introduction
Clarendon Studies in Criminology aims to provide a forum for outstanding empirical and theoretical work in all aspects of criminology, criminal justice, penology and the wider field of deviant behaviour. The Editors welcome excellent PhD work, as well as submissions from established scholars. The Series was inaugurated in 1994, with Roger Hood as its first General Editor, following energetic discussions between Oxford University Press and three Criminology Centres. It is edited under the auspices of these three Criminological Centres: the Cambridge Institute of Criminology, the Mannheim Centre for Criminology at the London School of Economics, and the Oxford Centre for Criminology. Each supplies members of the Editorial Board.
Nigel Fielding's book, Courting Violence, is a vivid account of the construction and treatment of violence by the crown courts. Based largely upon field observations and interviews with protagonists, Fielding examines the nature and effects of the language used by the judiciary and others to describe and define violence, or to pronounce morally on behaviour and authority. He contrasts legal or procedural concepts of fairness with lay expectations of fair treatment. He illustrates the symbolic or performative as well as instrumental function of the courts, arguing that the courts may produce verdicts and sentences, but that they also produce ‘society's very understanding of crime’. We learn much about the key roles of the police, lawyers, victim support, court ushers, witnesses and juries, as well as much about the role of the judges, and of court culture. Fielding illustrates in detail how the matter of resources can shape and constrain practice, and trouble judges, or ushers who we see hampered in their role as providers of sympathy in a court where ‘we are not allowed to have tissues because of the cost’. We observe legal tactics, a certain degree of ‘othering’, and the risks of judgement cast (or credibility questioned) by those in elevated social positions, throughout what is a fine example of social research. Fielding's analysis raises important questions about the relative value of ‘free narrative testimony’ (p. vi ) versus cross examination techniques in court proceedings, as well as about what constitutes ‘just and fair treatment’ in criminal justice.
The editors welcome this important addition to the Series.
Cambridge, December 2005