One of the Key Ways of understanding how people think about crime and justice is by investigating how they talk about it. This excerpt from Theodore Sasson’s (1995) Crime Talk: How Citizens Construct a Social Problem describes one method of establishing what crime means to people through considering how they articulate and express their views about it in open conversation. Influenced by symbolic interactionism, labelling, and the defining work of Spector and Kitsuse in the 1970s, Sasson’s study is located within the constructionist paradigm for social problems research. Unlike objectivist scholars (and the vast majority of social scientists are in some sense objectivist), 1 constructionists are largely unconcerned with examining the objective nature of social problems (i.e. their sources, dimensions and possible remedies). Rather, they are interested primarily in how issues like crime come to be viewed as a social problem in the first place, and how they are shaped in media discourses and the public imagination. Constructionists thus argue that a given social condition – whether it be mugging, infanticide, nuclear pollution, child sex abuse, or global warming – only becomes a social problem when groups and individuals engage in ‘claims-making’ about it, both ‘defining some putative condition as a problem, and asserting the need for eradicating, ameliorating, or otherwise changing that condition’ (Kitsuse and Spector, 1973: 415).