Visual criminology concerns itself with how crimes and society’s reaction to crime appear visually and how such representations are perceived. In a Durkheimian view, individuals look out for signs that the social order is upheld or undermined by crime. In doing this, visual criminology observes, they react to visual cues such as the appearance of their environment, photos in news media, and the combination of moving pictures and sound on tv and social media. Attempts to reduce harm and to change structures also often express themselves visually.
Sight and sound often go together, and sometimes further sensual impressions are impacting on the recipient. In a society saturated by visual and audio-visual media like never before, criminology has to engage with the visual. Therefore, visual criminology will be of use to researchers from all the different strands within criminology, even if up to now most of the contributions come from anglophone countries.
As varied as the visual manifestations of crime and the response to crime are the research methods employed by visual criminology. They include making respondents react to the stimulus provided by photos, the interpretation of “found” pictures and even criminologists involving themselves in the production of audio-visual media, like tv shows or films. In this way, visual criminologists have arrived at insights that they would not have gained otherwise. Visual criminology will form an important addition to the work of criminologists, especially those who wish to engage with the new ways in which people communicate about crime, and across the globe.