Brescia professor earns award for research paper about justice in Mennonite community

January 18, 2010

London, ON  – Brescia University College  professor Steve Kleinknecht has been recognized by the Canadian Society of  Criminology (CSC) for excellence in scholarship for a paper on deviance, social  control, and justice among Old Order Mennonites.

Kleinknecht’s paper Managing Their Own: Deviance, Social  Control, and Justice among the Old Order Mennonites was one of about 80 academic papers presented at the national CSC conference  in Ottawa last  October. Kleinknecht recently learned that his presentation earned the Richard  V. Ericson Award, which is presented to the best overall paper at the  conference, as judged by an expert panel of academics, and honours the  outstanding contribution of the late Professor Ericson to the development of  criminology in Canada and internationally.

“I am honoured to win this award and be mentioned alongside  Professor Ericson.I think that what the award committee found exceptional  about my piece was that I was examining perspectives on deviance and justice  from the point of view of a population that’s typically not considered by  criminologists,” Kleinknecht said.

Kleinknecht prefers qualitative to quantitative data in his  research. “The key thing I attempt to get across in this, and all my  presentations and research, are the experiences of the people I’m studying. How  do they see and make meaning out of the world?My goal as a sociologist is  to capture people’s social reality and attempt to make sense out of it,”  Kleinknecht explained.

His presentation brought the perspective of Old Order  Mennonites to life. “I argued that, in terms of managing social change and  keeping separate from outside society, they strive to handle threats to  continuity, such as deviance, internally.In doing this, though, they have  to maintain the legitimacy of their social control mechanisms and the church  leaders who are formally in charge of managing change and control.”

“Deviance, which is largely interpreted by the Old Order in  strict Biblical terms, has the potential to threaten the continuity of their  lifestyle.The group has mechanisms such as the threat of excommunication  to keep brethren in line, or bring them back in line as the case may be.Excommunication  is a very big deal to an Old Order Mennonite. It means having to leave a life  of familiarity for the relatively unknown world of modern society.The  paper highlights an alternative form of justice that, despite some internal and  external disagreement, works for the Old Order.”

Kleinknecht is on the faculty in Brescia’s Division of Sociology and Family Studies. His research and scholarly interests include subcultures, deviances, everyday life, sociology of the Internet, qualitative research, and symbolic interactionism. His recent work has revolved around examining characteristics of the hacker subculture and social change and continuity among the Old Order Mennonites.

For more information  please contact:

Professor Steve  Kleinknecht                                                         Phone: 519.432.8353, ext. 28279                                                         E-mail:

Brescia University College, Canada’s premier women’s university college,   is affiliated with The University of Western Ontario. The 1,100 women registered   as either full or part-time students at Brescia study a wide variety of subjects   in Arts, Social Sciences, and Foods & Nutrition in an empowering,   compassionate, student-centred, and invigorating environment. Degrees are   granted by Western. The Catholic College welcomes students from all backgrounds   and values diversity. For more information, please visit