Professor Paul Rock



Departments: Department of Sociology|
                           Mannheim centre for criminology| 

tel.+44 (0)20 7955 7296
LSE experts: Professor Paul Rock|



Paul Rock is Emeritus Professor of Sociology. He took his first degree at LSE and then a DPhil at Nuffield College, University of Oxford.

He has been a visiting professor at the University of California, San Diego; Simon Fraser University; the University of British Columbia; Princeton University, and the University of Pennsylvania; a visiting scholar at the Ministry of the Solicitor General of Canada; a fellow of the Center for the Advanced Study of the Behavioral Sciences in Stanford, California; and a fellow at REGNET, Australian National University. He is a fellow of the British Academy and of the Royal Society of Arts.


Research interests

His interests focus on the development of criminal justice policies, particularly for victims of crime, but he has also published articles on criminological theory and the history of crime. He is the author with David Downes of Understanding Deviance (fifth edition 2007, 6th edition in press).

He was formerly editor of the British Journal of Sociology and review editor of the British Journal of Criminology, a member of the editorial boards of Oxford University Press's Clarendon Criminology Series; and is currently co-editor of Sage's Compact Criminology series.

Professor Rock is also engaged in research with David Downes and Tim Newburn, also of the Mannheim Centre, writing the official history of criminal justice.




  • Victims, Policy-making and Criminological Theory, Ashgate, 2010.

Paul Rock began studying sociological criminology in 1961 and his intellectual history has run parallel to and in conversation with the evolution of the discipline over that long period.

He became a professional scholar when symbolic interactionism, sociological phenomenology and 'labelling theory' were taking form within criminology, and it is to those ways of viewing the social world that he still clings, although he has sought also to reflect critically upon them as time went by.

Having completed a DPhil dissertation on debt collection as a moral career, and largely as a matter of serendipity, he was to take to empirical research just as policies for victims of crime were being developed by governments across the developed world and, finding himself embedded as a visitor in a Canadian federal criminal justice ministry when a federal-provincial task force was being mooted, he was able to embark on the first of a sequence of field studies of policy-making centred chiefly on victims.

Those two interlaced preoccupations, theoretical and empirical, continually informed much, if not all, of his subsequent work, contributing to what has been, in effect, a running series of comparative ethnographies of government decision-making about the role of the victim in and around the criminal justice system.

publisher's site|

  • Constructing Victims' Rights (2004, Clarendon Press) [traces the origins and development of the themes which were fused together in the 2004 Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act]

Despite plentiful discussion at various times, the personal victim has traditionally been afforded almost no formal role in the criminal justice process. Victims' rights have always met with stout opposition from both judges and the Lord Chancellor, who have guarded defendants' rights; the maintenance of professionally-controlled and emotionally unencumbered trials; and the doctrine that crime is at heart an offence against society, State, or Sovereign.

Constructing Victims' Rights provides a detailed account of how this opposition was overcome, and of the progressive redefinition of victims of crime, culminating in 2003 in proposals for awarding near-rights to victims of crime.

publisher's site|



  • 'Hearing Victims of Crime:  The Delivery of Impact Statements as Ritual Behaviour in Four London Trials for Murder and Manslaughter', in A. Bottoms and J. Roberts (eds.) Hearing the Victim, Willan, 2010.

[About the book] In recent years far more attention has been paid to victims of crime - both in terms of awareness of the effect of crime upon their lives, and in changes that have been made to the criminal justice system to improve their rights and treatment.

This process seems set to continue, with legislative plans announced to 'rebalance the criminal justice system in favour of the victim'. This latest book in the Cambridge Criminal Justice Series brings together leading authorities in the field to review the role of the victim in the criminal justice system in the context of these developments.

publisher's site|

  • 'Approaches to Victims and Victimisation', in E. McLaughlin and T. Newburn (ed), The Sage Handbook of Criminological Theory, 2010.

The SAGE Handbook of Criminological Theory re-centres theory in the boldest, most thought-provoking form possible within the criminological enterprise.

Written by a team of internationally respected specialists, it provides readers with a clear overview of criminological theory, enabling them to reflect critically upon the variety of theoretical positions - traditional, emergent and desirable - that are constitutive of the discipline at the beginning of the twenty-first century.

publisher's site|

  • Editor (with Tim Newburn) The Politics of Crime Control: essays in honour of David Downes, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2006.

This book brings together ten leading British criminologists to explore the contemporary politics of crime and its control. The volume is produced in honour of Britain's most important criminological scholar - David Downes of the London School of Economics. The essays are grouped around the three major themes that run through David Downes' work - sociological theory, crime and deviance; comparative penal policy; and, the politics of crime. The third theme also provides the overarching unifying thread for the volume.

The contributions are broad ranging and cover such subjects as criminological theory and the new East End of London, the practice of comparative criminology including an analysis of variations in penal cultures within the United States, restorative justice in Colombia, New Labour's politics and policy in relation to dangerous personality-disordered offenders, the legal construction of torture, and the future for a social democratic criminology.

publisher's site|