Dr Phil Carney

Lecturer in Criminology
Director, Erasmus and International Programmes, SSPSSR
Kent Academic Lead, Doctorate in Cultural and Global Criminology


Dr Phil Carney's approach to criminology is to mix creative, cultural, historical, interpretive and critical approaches, particularly those that seek an understanding of power, desire and resistance.

Dr Carney maintains that, for the sake of a more critically-aware society, it is vital that we take a radical approach to the problems of criminalisation and punishment, and the multifarious forms of power and desire invested in them. 

Having trained in medicine, during which time he also graduated in medical sociology, Dr Carney specialised in psychiatry with a particular interest in both psychoanalytic approaches and forensic issues.

Dr Carney studied his Master's in Criminology at Middlesex University. He had funded attachments to institutions in Holland (Erasmus University) and Italy (University of Bari) in law and political science departments, respectively.

Research interests

Dr Carney's areas of interest include photographic theory, critical theory of spectacle, critical criminology, cultural criminology, visual criminology, desire and power and the micropolitics of fascism.

Taking a view that photographic representation and presentation is at the heart of the mass-mediated society of spectacle in modernity, Dr Carney undertook ESRC-funded doctoral studies, completing a thesis entitled 'The Punitive Gaze', in which he used case studies of photographed bodies in confinement to demonstrate a new critical theory of the mass-media photograph. In case studies examining the photographic events of Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib and the death of Myra Hindley, his aim was to show that another dimension of the power of the circulating photograph exists in excess of its representation and meaning: a force of practice or performance in and of the image. The photograph becomes both the scene and means of photogenic punishment.

In developing a theory of the active image, Dr Carney has drawn together some aspects of the writings of Marx, Nietzsche, Artaud, Foucault, Barthes, Deleuze and Guattari who, taken together in a particular way, may be seen to develop not only a materialist theory of power and desire as multiplicities, but to provide the theoretical infrastructure for a materialist theory of the power in the circulating image, particularly in what we might call photographic production, where the photograph may be both the stage and instrument of performance, praxis and action.

It is in this way that Dr Carney takes an interest in what might be called rhizomic and nomadic methods, as forms of resistance to the imperial, territorial ambitions of ‘royal science’. Thus the ‘culture’ of cultural criminology is a vagrant concept that should be allowed to roam between disciplines and across fields, resisting the attempts of royal scientists to pin it to a map.

Current research includes:

  • The theory of the photograph and its application in a critical approach to the modern spectacles of crime, punishment, war, torture and terrorism.
  • An inquiry into the different kinds of critical approach to the mass media beyond the standard ‘communications’ model, especially those that take into account the triangular relationship between spectacle, power and desire.
  • The use of post-structuralist themes - particularly materialist conceptions of power and desire - in cultural criminology, in the renewal of critical criminology and in social and critical theory more generally.
  • The micro-politics of fascism and the will to punish.


Dr Carney teaches the sociology of crime and deviance at undergraduate level and critical and global criminology at postgraduate level.


If you have a proposal within Dr Carney's areas of interest, please contact him by email.


  • Kent Academic Lead, Doctorate in Cultural and Global Criminology (DCGC).
  • Director Erasmus and International Programmes, SSPSSR, University of Kent. 
  • Kent Coordinator, Common Study Programme in Critical Criminology.
  • Member SSPSSR Research Ethics Committee, University of Kent. 



  • Carney, P. (2015). Foucault’s Punitive Society: Visual Tactics of Marking as a History of the Present. British Journal of Criminology [Online] 55:231-247. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjc/azu105.
    Applying a form of genealogical method rooted in Nietzsche’s use of history, this article seeks an understanding of ‘marking’ punishments in our own mass-mediated culture. First, Foucault’s analysis of the punitive tactic of marking in his 1973 course, The Punitive Society, will be considered. Second, his concept of ‘virtual marking’ will be extended and applied to the case of the pitture infamante in the early renaissance. Third, I will use these insights in a genealogical spirit in order to examine the rise of virtual marking in modernity. We will discover that Foucault was mistaken to tether marking punishments so closely to sovereign power. Instead, with certain antecedents in ancient Rome, virtual marking emerged in a largely bourgeois society during the early renaissance and re-emerges in our own society of mass, photographic spectacle.

Book section

  • Carney, P. (2017). Security and counter-security. In: Brisman, A., Carrabine, E. and South, N. eds. The Routledge Companion to Criminological Theory and Concepts. London, UK: Routledge. Available at: https://www.routledge.com/The-Routledge-Companion-to-Criminological-Theory-and-Concepts/Brisman-Carrabine-South/p/book/9781138819009.
  • Carney, P. (2017). How does the photograph punish?. In: Brown, M. and Carrabine, E. eds. Routledge International Handbook of Visual Criminology. London, UK: Routledge. Available at: https://www.routledge.com/Routledge-International-Handbook-of-Visual-Criminology/Brown-Carrabine/p/book/9781138888630.
  • Carney, P. and Dadusc, D. (2014). Power and Servility. An Experiment in the Ethics of Security and Counter-Security. In: Positive Criminology: Reflections on Care, Belonging and Security. Eleven International Publishing. Available at: http://www.elevenpub.com/criminology/catalogus/positive-criminology-1.
  • Carney, P. (2012). The Art of Photogenic Torture. In: Salek, F. and Flynn, M. eds. Screening Torture: Media Representations of State Terror and Political Domination. New York, USA: Columbia University Press.
  • Carney, P. (2010). Crime, punishment and the force of photographic spectacle. In: Hayward, K. J. and Presdee, M. eds. Framing Crime: Cultural Criminology and the Image. London: Taylor & Francis Ltd, pp. 17-35.
    (Chapter 2)
  • Carney, P. (2009). Enrico Ferri. In: Hayward, K. J., Maruna, S. and Mooney, J. eds. Fifty Key Thinkers in Criminology. Taylor & Francis Ltd.
  • Carney, P. and Miller, V. (2009). Vague Spaces. In: Jansson, A. and Lagerkvist, A. eds. Strange Spaces: Explorations into Mediated Obscurity. Ashgate, Farnham, pp. 33-56. Available at: http://www.ashgate.com/default.aspx?page=637&calcTitle=1&title_id=8213&edition_id=8454.
    Strange Spaces
    Explorations into Mediated Obscurity;

    Certain bizarre spaces, where disruption or disarray rule, leave us estranged and 'out of place'. This book examines such spaces, highlighting the emotional and mediated geographies of uncertainty and in-betweeness; of cognitive displacement, loss, fear, or exhilaration. It expands on why space is sometimes estranging and for whom it is strange. Overlapping with affections evoked by otherness, such as the 'exile', the 'obscene', the 'deviant', or the 'queer', strange spaces also call for a separate discussion ranging from decadence or disorder to spaces glowing with celebrification and wonder. Strange spaces in this book are conceived of in terms of change; involving processes when the consciousness registers a form of loss or difference as the habitual suddenly, or by degrees, is transformed into the site of exile, discomfort and sometimes novelty, astonishment and awe. While literature exists which covers both strangeness and spatial production, as well as empirical explorations of strange spaces, these have previously been dispersed and most often non-explicit. This book is the first to link such work within a profound theoretical discussion of 'what is strange about strange spaces' and how they evolve in a modern media age.


  • Carney, P. (2017). Review Essay: Marc Schuilenburg, The Securitization of Society: Crime, Risk and Social Order. Theoretical Criminology [Online]:1-5. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1362480617693710.


  • Dadusc, D. (2016). The Micropolitics of Criminalisation: Power, Resistance and the Amsterdam Squatting Movement.
    This research analyses how the criminalisation of the Amsterdam squatting movement works. The key research question addresses how criminalisation operates as a technology of government, what kind of relations of power are constituted through this processes, and how these are experienced and resisted. By paying attention to the relationship between politics, ethics and affects, the focus of this project is on the micropolitics of criminalisation and its resistances, where affects, everyday lived experiences, and embodied relations of power and resistance play a central role.

    The analytical framework conceptualises power relations as heterogenous, productive and constitutive forces rather than simply repressive and oppositional ones. This enables to analyse how criminalisation works by deployment of legalistic tools and policing practices, by engendering contested moralities around private property and the uses of urban spaces and by constituting specific modes of experiencing, acting and resisting. Moreover, this perspective unfolds the complex relations between criminalisation and resistance: the focus is placed on the active and creative power of heterogenous struggles that counter relations of power by means of protests and direct actions, as much as by experimenting subversive conducts, social relations and modes of life.

    This project engages with Activist-Research, aiming at producing a platform for collective reflection on how to resist criminalisation. Here resistance is not intended as an object of study, but as an epistemological perspective: namely a mode of unmasking, knowing and analysing how power operates. The empirical materials presented in the form of Intermezzi (between chapters) and Boxes (within chapters) constitute composite and collaborative process of reflection and narration.
  • Petrosian, V. (2015). Occupy Democracy: A Study of New Media Use by a Sub-Branch of the Occupy London Movement.
    The rise of new media through network globalisation has led to innovative forms of “new” social movements. This study will explore whether Occupy London, a branch of the global Occupy movement, fits within the realm of a “new” social movement. A further six areas of contention are drawn from a review of literature exploring old and new social movement theory, globalisation/alter-globalisation and perspectives on sousveillance and new media. Through ethnographic participant observation and semi-structured interviewing during Occupy Democracy’s May 2015 occupation of Parliament Square, this research studies the political makeup of the movement, its demogaphy, perception by law enforcement and use of traditional and alternative sousveillance techniques in order to fully understand the advancement of the movement, its aims and future. It further analyses how the movement’s advancement in their use of the Internet and other new media platforms could potentially cause a shift from its continuous media blackout to a more growing presence within the criminological landscape.
  • Mol, H. (2015). To Miss the Forest for the Trees? A Green Criminological Perspective on the Politics of Palm Oil Harm.
    Globally, the palm oil industry has been linked to practices that fit the most conventional definitions and perceptions of crime as well as the types of social and environmental harm that do not fit strictly legalistic definitions and understandings of crime. This thesis examines both the perceptions and realities of harm in the context of palm oil production in Colombia’s Pacific coast region, attending to the perspectives of corporate executives, public officials, industry representatives, small growers of oil palm, local palm oil critics, and NGOs with a critical stance towards agroindustrial palm oil production. The theoretical and analytical approach put forward to this end redirects the harm debate from a central concern with the academic contestation of harm within criminology, toward a focus on the on-the-ground contestedness of harm. The central research question that underpins the study is: “How are perceptions, practices, and realities of harm linked to palm oil production in the Colombian Pacific coast region contested, and what are the implications of this for debates on harm within green criminology?” Via a rich field-based account of the constructions, practices, and the lived and perceived realities of harm related to palm oil production, and the interrogation of the mechanisms and relations of power that thereby invest practices and discourses of harm, the study contributes empirically and theoretically to the green criminological analysis of the extractive industries, encouraging green criminology to engage with the notion of harm in more complex and nuanced ways. This approach enhances criminological understanding of the power dynamics that draw and keep in place the boundaries between legal harm, tolerated illegal harm, and non-tolerated illegal harm, and the hegemonic notions and practices of legality that thus operate to reproduce the status quo in ways that generate harm to human beings and the natural environment.
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