The European Group for the Study of Deviance and Social Control is an international network for academics, practitioners, and activists working towards social justice, state accountability and decarceration. It is an open forum promoting critical analysis and connecting theory, politics and activism. Since the Group was founded in Florence, Italy, in 1973, it has grown to comprise over 1000 members stretching across six different continents, making the Group the largest critical criminology forum in the world.
It is a group which works as a collective network, surviving only with the support of its members who contribute in many different ways, linking members from different countries together and publicising the European Group as national representatives, maintaining social media networks, coming up with new ideas, making financial donations, or simply providing their support and comradeship. Members also get together throughout the year at small conferences and study days organised by the various different working groups. These groups, focusing on specific issues of interest to members, have long been a tradition in the European Group.
Every year, the Group holds a conference in a European country, and seeks to link its conference theme to local political and social issues. Each conference brings together a broad range of people from across the world – students, local advocacy and activist groups, academics, researchers, and practitioners. Delegates adhere to many different philosophies and membership stretches not only across Europe but also now to countries in five other continents. European Group conferences are therefore always eclectic and diverse but they are unique from mainstream conferences for other reasons too. This is can best be explored through consideration of how the values of the European Group shape interactions between members. We are non-hierarchical – it makes no difference whether someone is a first year PhD Student or highly distinguished Professor, we are all students of deviancy and social control. We are all on a level playing field, and indeed this non-hierarchical ethos is central to the democratic and participatory workings of the European Group itself. Our conferences and forums are deliberately informal, emphasising mutual support, cooperation, solidarity and friendship, some of which we hope will continue for many years into the future. Given the philosophical heritage of the European Group we have respect for differences and tolerance of diversity, although we anticipate that the non-hierarchical ethos of anti-sexism and anti-racism, for example, will be adhered too in all forms of interaction.