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Ontario Tech acknowledges the lands and people of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation.

We are thankful to be welcome on these lands in friendship. The lands we are situated on are covered by the Williams Treaties and are the traditional territory of the Mississaugas, a branch of the greater Anishinaabeg Nation, including Algonquin, Ojibway, Odawa and Pottawatomi. These lands remain home to many Indigenous nations and peoples.

We acknowledge this land out of respect for the Indigenous nations who have cared for Turtle Island, also called North America, from before the arrival of settler peoples until this day. Most importantly, we acknowledge that the history of these lands has been tainted by poor treatment and a lack of friendship with the First Nations who call them home.

This history is something we are all affected by because we are all treaty people in Canada. We all have a shared history to reflect on, and each of us is affected by this history in different ways. Our past defines our present, but if we move forward as friends and allies, then it does not have to define our future.

Learn more about Indigenous Education and Cultural Services

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Steven Downing

Associate Professor

Faculty of Social Science and Humanities

Criminologist explores the intersection between culture, media and perceptions of justice.

  • PhD - Criminology University of Texas at Dallas, USA 2007
  • MS - Applied Sociology University of Texas at Dallas, USA 2004
  • BA - Crime and Justice Studies University of Texas at Dallas 2003

Prison-Themed Video Games: Peacemaking and Social Justice Opportunities

Washington, DC November 18, 2015

71st Annual Meeting of American Society of Criminology

Methods of Studying Cyberbullying: Critiques and New Directions

San Francisco, California November 19, 2014

70th Annual Meeting of American Society of Criminology

Racialized Borders: Hypothesizing the Diasporic Implications of Discriminatory Surveillance at Canadian Borders

Université du Québec à Montréal, Montréal, Québec October 17, 2013

Borders, Walls and Security Conference

Panel Chair, Advances in Qualitative Methods in Criminology, Space, Time and Reflexive Interviewing: Implications for Qualitative Criminology

Chicago, Illinois November 14, 2012

68th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Criminology

Why did “Cyberbullying” Supersede Hate Crime? Mass Distraction and the Tyler Clementi Case

Washington, DC November 16, 2011

67th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Criminology

Pains of Imprisonment in a “Lock 'Em Up” Video Game: Implications for a Peacemaking Discourse Through New Media Experiences

Published in Contemporary Justice Review Volume 19, Issue 1 December 30, 2015
Steven Downing & Kristine Levan

A limited body of literature has explored popular media portrayals of the prison experience. Much of this literature has focussed on film and television. Scant literature has considered new forms of media such as video games’ portrayals of the prison experience. In the current inquiry we examine the computer simulation game, Prison Architect, with respect to how its interactive experience has the potential simultaneously portray and problematize pains of imprisonment, and how these portrayals and problematizations may prompt a public discourse surrounding prison, particularly from a peacemaking perspective, even if the game itself does not incorporate concepts such as restorative justice.

View more - Pains of Imprisonment in a “Lock 'Em Up” Video Game: Implications for a Peacemaking Discourse Through New Media Experiences

The Self and the ‘Selfie’: Cyber-Bullying Theory and the Structure of Late Modernity

Published in Violence and Crime in the Family: Patterns, Causes and Consequences January 1, 2015
Shahid Alvi, Steven Downing & Carla Cesaroni,

The paper offers a critical criminological perspective on cyber-bullying encouraging scholars to engage with fundamental complications associated with the relationship between late-modernity, neo-liberalism and cyber-bullying. It argues for an approach that contextualizes cyber-bullying within the realities and consequences of late-modernity and neo-liberalism.

View more - The Self and the ‘Selfie’: Cyber-Bullying Theory and the Structure of Late Modernity

Criminality, Interpersonal Proximity and the Stop-Snitching Code: An Examination of Offender and Non-Offender Perceptions

Published in Current Issues in Criminal Justice January 1, 2015
Steven Downing

A number of studies have examined the relationship between the 'code of the street' and the concept of snitching (that is, informing the police). With some notable exceptions, these studies have generally focused on the pervasiveness of a 'stop-snitching code' or 'code of silence' among street offenders. In this study we seek to broaden understanding of the stop-snitching code by exploring perceptions of active, former, and non-offenders living in areas considered by residents to embody the street code.

Space, Time, and Reflexive Interviewing: Implications for Qualitative Research with Active, Incarcerated, and Former Criminal Offenders

Published in International Journal of Qualitative Methods February 1, 2013
Steven Downing, Katherine Polzer & Kristine Levan

Space and time are concepts familiar to physicists, philosophers, and social scientists; they are operationalized with varying degrees of specificity but are both heralded as important to contextualizing research and understanding individual, cultural, and historical differences in perception and the social construction of reality. Space can range from, at the macro level, geographic region, to at the micro level, the immediate physical surroundings of an individual or group of persons.

View more - Space, Time, and Reflexive Interviewing: Implications for Qualitative Research with Active, Incarcerated, and Former Criminal Offenders

Bullying Enters the 21st Century? Turning a Critical Eye to Cyberbullying Research

Published in Youth Justice Volume 12, Issue 3 December 13, 2012
Carla Cesaroni, Steven Downing & Shahid Alvi

2012 Current concerns around cyber-bullying emphasize child-victims and have prompted calls for understanding and reaction to an alleged new type of child-offender. Though there is little doubt that cyber-bullying is a phenomenon with potential for real harm, there remain a number of critical gaps in the cyber-bullying literature.

View more - Bullying Enters the 21st Century? Turning a Critical Eye to Cyberbullying Research

A Rough Aging Out: Graffiti Writers and Subcultural Drift

Published in International Journal of Criminal Justice Sciences July 1, 2012
Steven Downing

Many studies have provided rich ethnographic accounts of graffiti writing subculture, highlighting the roles of masculinity, resistance, and other dynamics that help shape these subcultures. In the current inquiry we examine the lives of a group of graffiti writers in a mid-sized city in southern Ontario, Canada. Our inquiry draws attention to the aging-out process of graffiti writers as they enter adulthood, seek employment and form relationships with non-graffiti writers, while at the same time striving to remain members of what it at its core a deviant subculture. Our analysis draws on life course, subcultural and drifts theories, illustrating the potential for combining these perspectives in future research on deviance in general.

The Transformation of Crime Prevention

Published in Jones and Bartlett Publishers February 14, 2012
Steven Downing

Dr. Downing has co-authored a chapter in the book Crime Prevention which presents significant issues related to contemporary crime prevention efforts. Interdisciplinary in its approach, the text is written for courses within a criminal justice or sociology curriculum.

View more - The Transformation of Crime Prevention

Editorial Board

SAGE Open January 1, 2012

SAGE Open publishes peer-reviewed, original research and review articles in an interactive, open access format. It aims to be the world’s premier open access outlet for academic research covering the full spectrum of social and behavioural sciences, and the humanities.

American Society of Criminology

Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences

UOIT Digital Life Research Group


  • Qualitative Research Methods (SSCI 2920U)
    This course is a survey of qualitative research methods. Students will be introduced to the historical, theoretical, epistemological, and ethical foundations of qualitative research. The course will provide a survey of major qualitative approaches such as: interview, focus group, observation, unobtrusive methods, and action research.
  • Cybercrime (CRMN 4021U)
    Cybercrime is an expansive concept that typically relates to crimes committed through, on, or involving the internet, but also increasingly applies to internet connected devices. This course approaches cybercrime from a sociological perspective, exploring topics such as offender motivation, organization, and societal and criminal justice responses. The course also critically interrogates the nature, extent and scope of cybercrime (and deviance), considering whether and to what extent formal and informal reactions are appropriate and warranted. The changing landscape of digital life is also explored, particularly as it relates to the intersection between private, public and institutional use of technology, vulnerabilities, and criminal behaviour/victimization.
  • Advanced Qualitative Methods (SSCI 3920U)
    This course provides an opportunity to learn about selected qualitative methods in depth and gain practical experience applying them to a research project. Students will learn how to plan and conduct a qualitative research project from start to finish. Historical, theoretical, epistemological, and ethical foundations of selected methods will be explored in depth.
  • Criminology and Justice Integrating Project (CRMN 4099U)
    This course is designed to allow students to develop a project in criminology and justice, which pulls together the key themes of the program, namely, theory, research and policy. Emphasis will be placed on independent scholarly inquiry reflective of a qualitative, quantitative, theoretical, or policy approach. Throughout this process, students will be expected to demonstrate an advanced level of understanding based on their previous course work in this program. The integrating project provides students with the opportunity, under the guidance of a faculty member, to synthesize and apply knowledge gained throughout their program of study. The students will set topics and approaches based on their areas of interest.