Sveinung Sandberg – Eurocrim 2020

Corona Crimes: How pandemic narratives change criminal landscapes

Sveinung Sandberg, Professor of Criminology, Department of Criminology and Sociology of Law, University of Oslo

Sveinung Sandberg, University in Oslo. Photo: UiO.

Abstract of paper presented at Eurocrim 2020:
The epidemic psychology of pandemics create an atmosphere of panic and fear that can expedite new laws and facilitate criminogenic narrative arousal. Using narrative criminology, we discuss crimes that emerged from pandemic narratives in the early phases of the disease in Mexico. We show how pandemic master narratives have unexpected criminogenic effects; can be negotiated to make them criminogenic; and are opposed by more fundamentally criminogenic counter-narratives.

We also show how pandemics repurpose justifications for traditional crimes and offer an opportunity for narrative repositioning of ‘criminals’. Societal crises intensify the continuous narrative negotiation that always underlies the meaning of crime. Pandemics can therefore act as a prism through which social scientists can see how crime is an ongoing narrative accomplishment.