Crime, Culture & Violence: Understanding How Masculinity and Identity Shapes Offending

Dr Katie Seidler

From prison interviews with violent offenders and a wealth of experience and research, psychologist Dr Katie Seidler explores the complex interaction between crime and culture. Featuring the voices of the offenders themselves, 15 convicted adult male violent offenders from various ethnic cultural communities explain their understanding, motivations and rationalisations for their actions and how these relate to questions of identity, community and responsibility within their cultural experience and values. In challenging current criminological theory, Dr Seidler suggests that offenders from group-oriented (collectivist) cultures offend for group-oriented reasons, whereas those from cultures prioritising individualism offend for individual reasons. This more nuanced understanding of crime and criminals within the context of culture adds significantly both to criminological theory, as well as providing suggestions for improvements to policing and offender management and rehabilitation within the criminal justice system.

About the Author

Katie Seidler is a clinical and forensic psychologist in private practice who has worked for the past 15 years in the criminal justice system, both with adolescent and adult offenders. In this area she has specialised in working with high-risk sex and violent offenders. Katie has also been involved in professional training, research and professional development. Her private practice is concerned with the provision of specialist assessments and treatment, as well as being involved in supervision, consultancy, research and training. She is dedicated to providing responsive forensic treatment that aims to protect the community and reduce recidivism by offenders.


Dr Seidler has written an engrossing book, at once both challenging and authoritative as it explores conventional views of what violence is and how it may be construed across cultures. The book explores the different ways that culture can be construed within forensic practice and the role that violence plays in modern life. It provides a critical analysis of how culture impacts on the potential causes of violence, but also how we may understand or misunderstand violence through cultural blinkers. Crime, Culture & Violence provides a scholarly discourse yet is grounded in the lived experience of various violent offenders as it comes to terms with how culture contributes to our understanding of the individual acts of violence committed by people in our society. Along the way it appeals to our need to understand and contextualise culture as both an interpretative map for understanding offenders, but also to viewing culture and culturally appropriate assessment and intervention as an important tool for addressing systemic violence in our community. It is to be recommended as an essential text for those wishing to understand the multifaceted presentation of violence within contemporary Western society.
Dr C.J. Lennings
Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Health Sciences, Sydney University
Editor of Sexual Abuse in Australia and New Zealand
Forensic Psychologist in practice in New South Wales

In Crime, Culture and Violence: Understanding How Masculinity and Identity Shapes Violent Offending, Dr Katie Seidler tackles the difficult issues associated with cultural affiliation and involvement in interpersonal violence. In looking at populations of male sexual and physical violence offenders from New South Wales, Australia, she seeks to better understand group and individualist approaches by exploring variations of 'self' and 'other'. Of particular importance is the finding that some individuals use violence to vaunt their 'self' while establishing simultaneous credibility with 'others' in their cultural group, particularly when the individual demonstrates social fragility. This becomes especially interesting when evaluating the reasons for engaging in sexual or physical violence - to advance personal agendas or to defend the group identity (contrast rape for personal satisfaction with rape as a practice in war). Dr Seidler presents a thought-provoking examination of the need to consider culturally situated approaches to understanding and working with interpersonal violence.
Robin J. Wilson, Ph.D., ABPP
Clinical Director, Florida Civil Commitment Center

Acts of violence often have profound consequences for those who have been victimised, those who witness violence, and those who are concerned about being victimised in the future. There is a pressing need to understand more about what motivates violent offending if policies and programs are to be developed that can effectively reduce the risk of aggressive and violent behaviour occurring. In this book Dr Seidler makes an important contribution to this field. Her detailed and careful analysis of the accounts of men in prison clearly illustrates how violence can be explained in relation to the familial, social, and cultural context in which it takes place, showing how cultural identity can both enable and constrain aggressive behaviour. The book is essential reading for those who work with violent men and, indeed, for anyone who has an interest in understanding more about why some men act violently.
Associate Professor Andrew Day
Centre for Offender Reintegration
Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia

As a fellow forensic clinician, I sympathise with Dr. Seidler's opinion that 'Often no one wants to know what I have to say' about offering treatment to offenders. In general violent offenders, and sex offenders in particular, are not high on the sympathy radar of the public. However, decreasing violent crime of all sorts is an important public issue. This book helps to provide guidance in accounting for how ethnicity and cultural context of offenders may affect criminal violence and its management. We disregard these aspects of criminality at our peril - without that understanding we cannot hope to reduce and manage these offenders. Given the multicultural nature of modern society, this book is an important addition to our understanding of violent offending.
Douglas P. Boer, Ph.D., R.Clin.Psych.
Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology
The University of Waikato, New Zealand

Dr Seidler has managed to weave psychological theory with the often colourful and always fascinating accounts of her one-on-one interviews with convicted violent offenders. This book is readily accessible to a broad range of people, from psychologists to criminologists and legal practitioners, through to those who personally seek a better understanding of the cultural aspects of criminal violence in Australian society.
Nicholas Poynder
Barrister and Migration Agent