This volume stands in the intellectual shadow of a number of texts generated by earlier York Deviancy conferences. Rejecting naturalism and political conservatism, the academics and practitioners who were to meet in York sought to critique the dominant state-based statistical analysis of modern criminology and to inject the intellectual and political energy of those times into deliberations about crime, deviance and disorder. Taking inspiration from Foucault and the critical approaches of US writers like Matza and Chambliss, the group generated significant theoretical impetus and empirical redirection. They stressed the need for progressive change and an understanding of the deep social-political location and the meaning of deviant action. A series of volumes (Cohen 1971; Taylor and Taylor 1973; Taylor et al. 1975) focused attention on a range of new topics, some of which now appear slightly outdated and others that became the bedrock of post-1968 criminological inquiry. It is important to remember the economic, political, cultural and intellectual context of the times and that these were significant advances that addressed the problem of crime and its control in new ways. What then was new about this ‘new criminology’? In closing their volume

dealing with a social theory of deviance, Taylor, Walton and Young (1973) suggested that the hallmarks of their proposed approach lay in a political economy of criminal action and an explicitly politically located and psychologically informed understanding of the dynamics of action and reaction. In essence the new criminology sought to understand the social contexts of action and reactions that, together, could be thought of as a kind of deviant assemblage, of conditions, influences and labels attached to processes seen to be broadly deviant or overtly criminal. This was not to cut away relevant contexts, forces and drives but rather to move away from classical and positivist notions of criminality that essentialised crime as something that bad people simply enacted. Thus there was a move to psychologise as well as to socialise models of harmful human action, both by referring to conditions of various kinds, and adding to this a sense of the way that social actors operated within contexts that were themselves unequal, demeaning, potentially violent, insecure and so on

(Cohen 1971). Given these concerns deviance was to be seen as a social construction; something contingent upon complex social processes and reactions that involved actors in contexts that might well vary temporally and spatially. With the injection of a greater momentum around politicisation and radical

idealism the critical criminology movement expanded, and Cohen (1988) notes the increasingly sociological concerns of textbooks emerging more generally in the 1970s. With another notable collection, Critical Criminology, appearing in 1975 (Taylor et al.), the development of a clearly definable movement seemed assured. In addition the almost contemporaneous release of papers from the York meetings (Cohen 1971; Taylor and Taylor 1973) by Pelican, an offshoot of Penguin publishing, also highlight the popular appeal and currency of these ideas at this time. Over at least 14 symposia in York these ideas were developed, contested and redeveloped. Membership of the National Deviancy Conference (NDC) cost a mere £1 a year for self-described radicals! The year 1974 saw the launch of the European Group for the Study of Deviance and Social Control, and the expansion of a European space within which the development of sociological approaches to crime could be further developed.

A criminology at the End Times