Victimology pp 115-134 | Cite as

Bereaved Family Activism

  • Elizabeth A. CookEmail author


This chapter explores the subject of bereaved family activism (BFA): the attempts by bereaved families to manage and address their experiences of violent death through public campaigns, which confront injustices, raise awareness and promote the acknowledgement of harms that may have previously gone unheard. First, the chapter examines the growing importance of victims’ voices in public debate and policy making before relating this more widely to how victims’ voices feature in the wider landscape of criminal justice. Second, BFA is introduced within this wider context and used to highlight the efforts of bereaved families in confronting injustices and raising awareness. These points are illustrated with reference to Doreen Lawrence and the practice of sharing experiential stories. The third part of the chapter draws upon interviews and participant observation conducted by the author during doctoral research to investigate the efforts of one such campaign, Mothers Against Violence: an anti-violence charity that emerged in response to an intense period of gun violence and ensuing community outcry nearly two decades ago. The author demonstrates the significance that stories of suffering can hold in public life and what can be learned from the experiences of bereaved families. Her conclusions highlight the importance of victims’ voices in creating communities of solidarity and recognition of injustices.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Criminology, Faculty of LawUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

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