David Wästerfors – Eurocrim2021

Closer, closer … bam! Stepwise employment of criminological explanations in interview accounts of a young drug-dealer and murderer

David Wästerfors, Professor of Sociology, Lund University

David Wästerfors. Photo: Private.

An academic interest in storytelling around crime is a fruitful route to theorizing crime, but theorizing does not merely belong to academics.

If we listen carefully to the stories told by people with criminal experiences, we may detect and analyze an interest in theorizing their own actions and circumstances, in collaboration with an interviewer. We might even say that an interest in lay criminology is a fruitful route to accomplish storytelling about crime in the first place.

In this presentation, I will exemplify this by the help of instances from a series of interviews with a young Swedish drug dealer at a youth detention home and his narrated trajectory towards a biographical climax, consisting of a murder. By highlighting how interviewer and interviewee join in exploring how come certain criminal actions and expectations emerged, I will try to show how ‘folk criminology’ – especially in terms of drift and control theories – are suggested and employed in a stepwise manner during the interviews.

The result may help narrative criminologists to sharpen their ways of analyzing oral storytelling, and it may also deepen the acknowledgement of folk-criminological curiosity as an energizing component in storytelling.