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Center for interdisciplinary Crime Studies (CiCS)

Crime is discussed everywhere. There is probably no area of society in which crime is not perceived and, often extensively, talked about. It is a topic not only in criminal law, but also ingrained within cultural discourse: crime is omnipresent.

The flip side of this omnipresence is a frequently diagnosed conceptual vagueness: crime is interpreted, used, and treated very differently. Depending on the institutions and individuals involved, crime is interpreted in different ways, e.g. as a problem that requires assistance and support, as a signal for reform, as a reason for harsher penalties, as a chance for media entertainment, or as a topic of everyday conversation, and so on.

The contexts of these determinations are also broad: far beyond legal issues, crime is presented in novels as well as in comics or daily newspapers, on digital platforms, in political debates about homeland security as well as in preventive work in schools, etc., as a social reality that institutions and people (have to) deal with. What crime "is", very much depends on the contexts in which it is thematized.

The "Center for Interdisciplinary Crime Studies" - an interdisciplinary association of scholars researching crime at the University of Siegen - takes this complexity as its starting point. The Center does not understand crime as something given, but rather as something dynamic whose meaning must be "fortified". We propose that there is no impartial point in the analysis of crime from which it could be viewed independently of perspective as a purely objective datum. Rather, the analysis of crime as a cultural practice and an attribution requires a double interrogation: on the one hand, of the ways in which crime is contextually produced as a phenomenon of institutional and everyday practice, and on the other, of the ways in which it is constituted and made accessible through particular disciplinary perspectives.

The "Center" recognizes the significance of this double demand for reflection. The complexity of crime is to be taken seriously, without, however, implying arbitrariness, for crime cannot be spoken of arbitrarily. Both must be taken into account: crime is neither unambiguous nor arbitrary. On the contrary, it is both: it is dynamic and changes with the way it is perceived and interpreted. At the same time, it can become a "hard" reality if treated and codified accordingly. Our research seeks to do justice to this specificity of crime.

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