Jock Young played a central role in creating modern criminology. In fact, he played a major part in the development of criminology over the past forty years.
The New Criminology, which was published in 1973, was a landmark text. It became required reading on large number of criminology courses that sprang up in the 1970s and 1980s. This book has just been reissued by Routledge and contains a new introduction written by Jock, which provides an excellent overview of recent developments in criminology.
In 1975 he wrote the classic article ‘Working Class Criminology’, which provided the springboard for the development of realist criminology. In developing this approach he aimed to challenge the liberal-conservative consensus on the one hand and move away from the romantic idealism that characterised much of the criminology that defined itself as ‘critical’. In its place he advocated an approach that linked theory to practice.
More recently he explored the cultural dimensions of crime and punishment. This interest was in part a reaction to the increasingly drab and lifeless forms of criminology that turn this vibrant and fascinating subject area into a series of ‘variables’ or impenetrable statistics.
The enduring inspiration of Jock’s work is an appreciation of the complexity and diversity of social life and the changing role that crime and justice play in the modern world.
Roger Matthews has also co-written a tribute to Jock Young with Keith Hayward in the March 2014 edition of Criminal Justice Matters.