A coastal criminological exploration: Approaching urban industrial strain using visual sensory methods in Aberdeen

Janine Ewen

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Criminology and sociology have more to offer one another in understanding urban life. Stories of urban crime appear in newspapers and across social media platforms, depicting the simplistic and sensationalist realities of complex urbanism and people’s lives. However, criminologists and sociologists are encouraging qualitative insights into urbanism and the use of multi-sensory methods in research. This experimental pilot study explored the use of visual-sensory methods in a crime/ industrial/community location in Aberdeen City. The study uses data collected from a sensory group sea-sound-walk I participated in, with new information from an extension of the exploration through lone arts-based walking. Field notes, including descriptions, route maps, observations, interpretations, reflections, and photographs will provide empirical evidence and rich context. The interpretive and reflective analysis acknowledges my own experience of the urban environment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-27
Number of pages27
JournalGranite Journal: The University of Aberdeen Postgraduate Interdisciplinary Journal
Issue number1
Early online date1 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

I owe this short paper to those people in Aberdeen who are responsible for our street art and the visuals featured within this piece, all of whom have made it possible for me to start expanding my criminological and sociological imagination thanks to their creativity in our home town. I hope that paying closer attention to ‘unlikely places’ will mean that those unknowns will feel acknowledged and less alienated (Ewen, 2020). With the utmost thanks to artist and researcher Maja Zeco, who organised the sea-sound group walk supported by the North-East creative arts programme, ‘Look Again Aberdeen’. A friend who helped me to improve my visual sensory walk maps, Richard Kjellgren, PhD student at Stirling University, I look forward to you visiting me so we can explore together. I would like to give a fresh acknowledgement to those women who worked in Aberdeen’s sex industry tolerance zone in the port area (where part of this exploration takes place), an area that has long been treated as “seedy”. I witnessed your banishment and inner-city harassment due to the fallout from the scrapping of the tolerance zone in 2007—this is for all of you. I hope that this modest contribution will begin to improve what has been a lesser engagement in criminology and sociology in Northeast Scotland.


  • Criminology and Sociology
  • Aberdeen
  • Visual Sensory
  • Atmosphere,
  • Urban
  • Port
  • Oil
  • Energy transition
  • Well-being and Health of People and Places


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