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Steven Downing

Associate Professor

Assistant Dean - Graduate Studies

Criminology and Justice

Faculty of Social Science and Humanities

Contact information

Bordessa Hall - Room 502
Downtown Oshawa
55 Bond Street East
Oshawa, ON

905.721.8668 ext. 3805


Dr. Steven Downing received his PhD in Criminology from The University of Texas at Dallas, where he also received a Master of Arts in Sociology. He has applied theories of crime to online and offline settings, where he qualitatively examines subcultural and social control constructs surrounding deviant and criminal behaviour. He also explores methodological issues surrounding online and offline ethnography, interviewing and other qualitative approaches. He has published articles across a range of disciplines, in journals such as: 

  • Contemporary Justice Review
  • Criminal Justice and Popular Culture
  • Current Issues in Criminal Justice
  • Deviant Behavior
  • The Journal for Computer Game Culture


  • MA, Sociology University of Texas at Dallas
  • PhD, Criminology University of Texas at Dallas

Courses taught

  • Cybercrime
  • Introductory and Advanced Qualitative Methods
  • Sociological Theories of Crime

Research and expertise

Research background and interests:

  • criminal and deviant subcultures
  • sociological theories of crime
  • theories of justice

Research supervision areas:

  • ethnography
  • game studies
  • mixed qualitative methods
  • sociological theories of crime


  • Selected publications

    Downing, Steven, Levan, Kristine, & Katherine Polzer. (2018). Boys in the Hood and Vampires in the Woods: Racialized Fatalism in Cinema. Criminology, Criminal Justice, Law & Society, 19(3): 74-88.

    Reid, Samantha & Steven Downing. (2018). Survival Themed Video Games and Cultural Constructs of Power. Loading…, 11(18): 41-57.

    Downing, Steven. (2018). Virtual Parent-Child Relationships: A Case Study. Journal of Virtual Worlds Research, 11(1): 1-12.

    Downing, Steven, & Jennifer Powers. (2017). They’re not Mean Girls if they are Adult Women: Reality Television’s Construction of Female Identity and Interpersonal Aggression. Sociological Research Online, 23(1): 3-20.

    Downing, Steven and Kristine Levan. (In Press). Pains of Imprisonment in a “Lock Em’ Up” Video Game: Implications for a Peacemaking Discourse Through New Media Experiences. Contemporary Justice Review.

    Downing, Steven and Bobby Copeland. (2015). Criminality, Interpersonal Proximity and the Stop-Snitching Code: An Examination of Offender and Non-Offender Perceptions. Current Issues in Criminal Justice, 26(3): 143-161.

    Downing, S, Polzer, K and Levan, K: Space, Time and Reflexive Interviewing: Implications for Qualitative Research with Active, Incarcerated and Former Criminal Offenders. International Journal of Qualitative Methodology, 12: 478-497, 2013.

    Cesaroni, C, Downing, S and Alvi, S: Bullying Enters the 21st Century? Turning a Critical Eye to Cyberbullying Research. Youth Justice, 12(3): 199-211. (featured in Anderson Cooper’s CNN Special: The Bully Effect, March, 2013), 2012.

    MacDiarmid, L and Downing, S: A ‘Rough’ Aging out: Graffiti Writers and Subcultural Drift. International Journal of Criminal Justice Sciences, 7(2): 619-631, 2012.

    Downing, S: Retro Gaming Subculture and the Social Construction of a Piracy Ethic. International Journal of Cyber Criminology, 5(1): 749-771, 2011.

    Downing, S: Gaming Subculture, Social Control and Virtual Criminality: An Ethnographic Account. Internet Journal of Criminology, 2011.

    Levan, K, Polzer, K and Downing, S: Media and Prison Sexual Assault: How We Got to the “Don’t Drop the Soap” Culture. Internet Journal of Criminology and Sociological Theory, 4(2): 674-682, 2011.

    Downing, S: Street Justice: A Theoretical Paradigm. Contemporary Justice Review, 14(2): 125-147, 2011.

    Downing, S: Social Control in a Subculture of Piracy. Criminal Justice and Popular Culture, 17(1): 77-123, 2010.

    Downing, S: Online Gaming and the Social Construction of Virtual Victimization. Eludamos: Journal for Computer Game Culture, 4(2): 287-301, 2010. 

    Downing, S: Attitudinal and Behavioral Pathways of Deviance in Online Gaming. Deviant Behavior, 30(3): 293-320, 2009.

  • Recent conference presentations

    2014, American Society of Criminology, Methods of Studying Cyberbullying: Critiques and New Directions.

    2013, Borders, Fences and Walls Conference, Montreal, Quebec, Racialized Borders: Hypothesizing the Diasporic Implications of Discriminatory Surveillance at Canadian Borders, with Alana Saulnier.

    2012: American Society of Criminology, Panel Chair, Advances in Qualitative Methods in Criminology, Space, Time and Reflexive Interviewing: Implications for Qualitative Criminology, with Dr. Kristine Levan and Dr. Katherine Polzer.

    2011: American Society of Criminology, Why did Cyberbullying Supersede Hate Crime? Mass Distraction and the Tyler Clementi Case, with Dr. Carla Cesaroni and Dr. Shahid Alvi.