To date, approaches to understanding serial murder have focused on individual cases rather than the social context in which they occurred. Written by leading criminologists and world experts on serial murder, this book marks a departure by situating nineteenth century serial killer Mary Ann Cotton within the broader social structure. Using archival records of her court appearances, local histories and newspaper articles, it uniquely explores how institutions such as the family, economy and religion shaped the environment she inhabited and her social integration through the roles of wife, mother, worker and criminal. Acknowledging that it takes a particular type of individual to commit serial murder, the book shows that it also takes a particular type of society to enable that murderer to go unseen. As the first work to analyse serial murder through the theoretical framework of institutional criminology and institutional anomie theory, it will equip criminologists with a methodological toolkit for performing institutional analysis.
Elizabeth Yardley is Associate Professor of Criminology and Director of the Centre for Applied Criminology at Birmingham City University. Her research explores unusual types of homicide and the social context in which these crimes occur.
David Wilson is Professor of Criminology at Birmingham City University and the founding Director for the Centre for Applied Criminology. He is regarded as one of the country's leading experts on serial murder
The Trouble with Female Serial Killers;
Intersections and Institutions: New pathways in making sense of female serial killers;
Development of the Case Study;
Mary Ann's Social Roles;
An Institutional Understanding of Mary Ann and Future Directions for Research.
"Although there is much written about male serial killers, the female variety, being very much rarer, is little understood. This book is therefore a welcome and important addition to a fascinating topic." Professor David Canter, University of Huddersfield
"This excellent book starkly and powerfully confronts our received understanding of female serial killers. By placing the institutions of family, church and economy in the dock we are forced to move beyond the psychological in grappling with the conditions which give rise to serial killing." Penny Green, Queen Mary, University of London