Stories of Violence: A Narrative Criminological Study of Ambiguity

Sveinung Sandberg, Sébastien Tutenges, Heith Copes

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Violence features in human life, not only as actual physical confrontation but also as stories. Stories of violence are particularly important in violence-prone subcultures and among those partaking in the illegal drug economy. Drawing on narrative analysis, this study examines stories of violence among a population of incarcerated Norwegian drug dealers. Four widespread story types are identified: business narratives, intimidation narratives, moral narratives and survivor narratives. We explore the content of these stories and the work they do for tellers while keeping a keen eye on their ambiguous nature. We argue that stories and storytellers plurivocality is often missed when stories of violence are described within established criminological traditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1168-1186
Number of pages19
JournalBritish Journal of Criminology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Jan 1
Externally publishedYes

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Sociology

Free keywords

  • ambiguity
  • drug dealers
  • narrative
  • narrative criminology
  • story
  • violence


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