Prepping and verstehen: A narrative criminological perspective

Mills, Michael F and Fleetwood, Jennifer. 2020. Prepping and verstehen: A narrative criminological perspective. Tijdschrift over Cultuur & Criminaliteit, 9(3), pp. 30-47. ISSN 2211-9507 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Talk, chat, and stories are ubiquitous in ethnographic research. Engaging with the recently burgeoning literature around narrative criminology, this article argues that considerations of stories and storytelling can add much to cultural criminologists’ pursuit of ‘criminological verstehen’ (Ferrell, 1997). In doing so, we focus on one case study: ethnographic research grounded within the USA’s contemporary ‘doomsday’ prepping subculture. The article considers the value of attending to narrative during the pursuit of verstehen at two levels. First, we address the importance of storytelling upon entry to the ethnographic field – drawing attention to how the narratives researchers share, and their respect for certain stories, can facilitate deep and experiential access to stigmatized fields of activity (such as prepping). Second, we explore how narrative remains in play during immediate experiences. In particular, we argue that fleeting excitements featured in prepping lifestyles are often shaped by the significance of the ‘moments’ in which they occur to numerous personal narratives. We therefore contend that, for ethnographers interested in verstehen, a consideration of narrative offers a means to expand and deepen empathetic appreciation of participants’ worldviews and activities.

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Verstehen, narrative, prepping, experience, stories, ethnography

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21 November 2019Accepted
1 May 2020Published

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Date Deposited:

14 May 2020 14:57

Last Modified:

10 Jun 2021 02:45

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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