Since its creation, the University of Toronto’s Centre for Criminology & Sociolegal Studies has emphasized an interdisciplinary approach to research. This Grey Literature archival series showcases the breadth and depth of the academic questions that have inspired all the people who have worked with the Centre through the decades. A diverse collection of issues and interests have kept the Centre’s output of publications relevant to contemporary problems while also encouraging new research emblematic of a forward-thinking approach to the field of criminology. While some familiar names and topics crop up in the collection, no two documents are alike and none come from the exact same contexts. From international conferences to community town halls, this collection reveals how the Centre became a forum of its own, facilitating researchers’ pursuit of a variety of academic issues in a variety of institutional settings. Spanning the last four decades of the twentieth century, this collection of grey literature represents a journey through key periods in criminal justice policymaking. Along the way, the Centre’s academic output provided a critical look at the hallmark issues in the field, and dealt with emerging social trends to push criminological research forward, such as the promotion of rehabilitation and reintegration in the early 1970s, or substance abuse in the 1990s. Ranging from police reform to youth sentencing, from theories of crime causation to enhancing access to justice, this archival series outlines the work of a Centre for Criminology whose researchers, then as now, offered innovative insights into complex social questions.
The collection begins, appropriately, with some foundation, and a number of the earlier documents are concerned with the sources of knowledge on criminology, both within the academic community and among the broader public, where empirical research intersects with beliefs and education efforts to form a policy approach to criminal behaviour. This kind of self-reflective analysis undergirds much of the Centre’s grey literature, where the focus is often on questioning assumptions and attitudes about criminal justice policy in order to devise better research methods and more effective crime prevention practices. To that end, the collection includes a handful of research proposals charting the Centre’s plans for long-term projects and collaborations between faculty from different departments in the University. The Centre’s affiliate researchers would then take part in different conferences and community events to help turn their ideas into practice, so a large amount of the grey literature, accordingly, originated from these proceedings, with a public lectures series held at the University in early 1970 being a key highlight of this strand of community-oriented research. Finally, it wouldn’t be a proper grey literature archive without an abundance of academic publications featuring the Centre’s affiliate faculty and graduate students as the authors, assistants, and contributors. The Centre has housed its researchers’ working papers, symposia presentations, bibliographies, pre-published articles, annotated materials, and plenty more—from the rough ideas to the fully-fledged reports to important government institutions, the grey literature series includes a rich variety of academic publications, at all stages of the academic process.
Peter Macnaughton-Smith on the Philosophy of Crime
Although trained in statistics as an Oxford mathematician, Peter Macnaughton-Smith’s contribution to the Centre, with his grey literature publications, is more concerned with the abstract. His paper, “Towards (or away from) a theory of crime and delinquency,” is the first document in the grey literature series, having likely been written sometime in the late 1960s. Reading through it, you won’t find any dense charts or convoluted graphs, even though his writing is reflective of a statistical approach to the field of criminology. Rather, Macnaughton-Smith confronts the controversial idea of predicting criminality, and he argues that the attempt to develop predictive models for crime control purposes is ultimately a task of ‘defining the problem’ of crime itself. Taking this further, he interrogates the moral connotations of the terms used to define this problem, like ‘offender’ and ‘victim’, and concludes with a discussion of how labelling practices are at the center of crime control systems. Another of his publications in this series, “What is crime and why do we fight it?” was used in a public lecture series, adopting a more accessible tone as it discusses many of the same issues and proposes similar ideas about the role that labelling plays in shaping criminal justice policy. These ideas have clear implications for the social stigma of incarceration and the prospects of successful rehabilitation policies, and they offer an innovative view of how redefining social problems leads to alternative kinds of policy reform. Anyone interested in critical sociology will find many interesting insights in Macnaughton-Smith’s papers.
John Ll. J. Edwards on Teaching
John Ll. J. Edwards undoubtedly left a mark on the Centre just by virtue of founding it as a distinct research institution within the University of Toronto, but even as its director, he continued to contribute to new criminological research. With eight of his documents in this grey literature collection, Edwards’ late 1960s research primarily focused on sentencing. His earliest item in the collection, though, is less academic and more about academia itself, as he wrote “A report on Canadian research and teaching in criminology” that he presented at a 1964 conference at the University of Cambridge. In the report, he describes the emergent interest in formalizing criminology curricula in English-speaking universities, including Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. The need to provide a structured educational setting to study criminology, which was still a relatively young field, provided the impetus to develop new university departments. Among them was the University of Toronto’s own Centre of Criminology, and this document outlines Edwards’ rationale in guiding the Centre through its early years. One of his main goals was to “safeguard” the Centre and its graduate teaching program, in particular, from government agencies who pressured the institution to provide courses for criminal justice officials in penitentiaries, parole, and policing. For this same reason, he remarked that the Centre would not yet be ready to “embark” on an undergraduate criminology program. Protecting the academic independence of the Centre of Criminology’s graduate unit was Edwards’ main focus, and not the expansion of its efforts into all areas of the university and beyond. Accordingly, his report mentioned the importance of organizing the “comprehensive library” of published and unpublished criminological documents that, today, includes an extensive archive as well.
Richard V. Ericson, “The Constitution of Legal Inequality,”
In this compact red booklet, Richard V. Ericson provides a detailed analysis of law’s role in producing inequality, as part of the 1983 John Porter Memorial Lecture held at Carleton University. The issue of legal inequality is much more prominent in sociolegal scholarship today, and Ericson’s lecture could fit seamlessly into the introductory class of many undergraduate courses the centre offers. In 1983, however, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms was only a year old, and its impact on the Canadian legal landscape was still being defined. In that context, Ericson’s lecture built on the sociological foundations of John Porter, who was the foremost scholar of structural inequalities and hierarchies in Canadian society during the early postwar decades. Ericson makes reference to Porter’s landmark book, The Vertical Mosaic, in describing how the legal system reinforces power disparities, in the physical expressions of social control represented by policing and imprisonment, as well as the “ideological arm” represented by legal expertise and agents of state reform. Starting with a discussion of law’s discursive function, Ericson dissects ‘myths’ about social order before considering the role of various criminal justice actors, from lawyers to judges to police, in upholding hierarchies through law. This highly critical, highly-engaging lecture offers many ideas that social scientists can incorporate into more targeted research. It is also a strong foundation on which to introduce students and non-experts to the principles that have guided the Centre in its approach to the field of criminology and sociolegal scholars, and promises to be an interesting and insightful read to anyone concerned with advancing human rights in Canada.