The strategic research programme (SRP)"Criminology of 'the other': Experiences and processes of 'othering' in and beyond crime control", led by Lucas Melgaço, Sofie De Kimpe, An-Sofie Vanhouche and Kristof Verfaillie, builds on experiences from two previous SRPs awarded to the Crime & Society Research Group (CRiS): SRP12 "Crossing Borders: Crime, Culture and Control" and SRP44 "Crime and Society, New Challenges".
In these previous programmes, the Crime & Society Research Group focused more on the meaning of social exclusion in relation to the criminological research topic than on the process of criminalisation itself as a form of social exclusion. In this new programme, we focus on the all-encompassing topic of 'the other'. 'Othering' is the process of naming and marking those who are thought to be different from yourself (Weis, 1995), a process involving stereotypes and representations about 'the other' when you meet and talk about them (Dervin, 2016).
'Othering' is an important perspective in criminology, especially how criminology relates to people defined as powerless, poor and different types of minorities, including ethnic, gender and racial minorities. The concept of othering refers not only to the descriptive analysis of discriminatory practices, but also to the discursive reproduction of insider and outsider categories in media, policy and also in "uncritical criminology" (Williams, 2015)
In short, choosing a perspective of 'othering' not only brings a renewed focus on analysing the experiences of socially excluded groups, it also has the potential to shed new and critical light on criminological practice and knowledge production. An understanding of how academia can reproduce "subaltern" citizens has transformative potential for the whole study of crime and public order.
The perspective on "othering" includes a methodological and ethical warning about how studying social groups can lead to exoticising them as "the other" (such as homeless people, refugees, LGTBIA+ populations, asylum seekers, prisoners, etc.), how processes of "othering" can take place during fieldwork between researchers and participants, or how the reproduction of classifications can lead to the "othering" of (indigenous) knowledge (Feldman, 2000).
The focus on the other and othering is explored in four domains: police studies, penology, urban criminology and policy studies and will build on the increasing cooperation between our four research lines (Penality and Society, Policing and Surveillance, Youth Justice studies, Crime and the City) . As such, the project aligns with broader contemporary international debates on which CRiS has long focused. In terms of methodology, we will draw on our extensive experience in qualitative in-depth research. We will explore alternative methodologies and principles that prioritise articulating 'the other', such as participatory action research and creative methods. Moreover, critical reflections on methodology and ethics will contribute to a better understanding of the role of researchers in processes of 'othering'.
ETHICS AND METHODOLOGICAL INNOVATION
The SRP is cross-sectional an within an integrated approach, the four domains envisage methodological innovation as a result of this SRP. We focus on the impact of our work and how we should work, including visual/creative methods in voicing vulnerable groups.