Graduate Profile: Katarina Bogosavljevic, BA, Criminology

June 09, 2016

Born in Serbia and raised in Burnaby, Katarina Bogosavljevic came to SFU to study Criminology upon her mother’s encouragement and suggestion. Following an interest in law and justice she’s had since high school, Bogosavljevic says she had inclinations to become a police officer when she first came to SFU, but that path changed after seeing how Criminology branches out into other areas. “At SFU, Criminology is so interdisciplinary. You have courses that intersect with not only sociology, but biology, psychology or the environment. There are all these branches of specialization. Through a process of elimination, I found myself really drawn to the sociological facets of studying Criminology.”

While there were many courses she enjoyed, Bogosavljevic says a class on the Sociology of Law introduced her to qualitative analysis, an area in which she developed a keen interest. Studying qualitative research methods with Dr. Sheri Fabian, Bogosavljevic enjoyed being able to combine her personal interest in the show Orange is the New Black, with sophisticated critical analysis and the experience made her want to complete the honour’s program in Criminology.

Bogosavljevic says in choosing the topic for her honours thesis, titled “Breaking the Blue Wall of Silence: A Qualitative Content Analysis on the Media Portrayal of Sexual Harassment in the RCMP,” she was spurred by stories of two high profile complainants in the class action lawsuit against the RCMP: namely, lead complainant Janet Merlo and former RCMP spokesperson Catherine Galliford. In her thesis, she analysed how “mainstream media reporting on these cases fluctuated between 1) focusing on the damaged or tarnished image the RCMP has suffered as a result of these sexual harassment complaints and 2) positioning RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson as a potential ‘saviour’ or person who is trying to save grace in a terrible situation.”

Rather than approach the issue as systemic to RCMP as an institution, she says, “most mainstream coverage that I analysed consistently named Paulson as someone tasked with solving a problem of management style or workplace bullying. Discussion of the ‘scandal’ was always paired with ‘reform.’ ” The consistency of this type of representation, says Bogosavljevic, is due to the “symbiotic” and somewhat “fragile” relationship police and media share. “It’s symbiotic because while the media depends on the police to give them information about crimes so they can report on them, the police also depend upon the mainstream media to establish trust in the public. The problem with this is that the public cannot really count on the media to be as critical as it should be.”

While focusing on her own academic interests, Bogosavljevic has gathered a host of experiences volunteering. In addition to positions with the West Coast Legal Education and Action Fund and the BC Civil Liberties Association, she’s also volunteered with the Surrey Pre-Trial Services Centre and Youth Forensic Psychiatric Services. At SFU, Bogosavljevic has held such positions as Vice-President of the Criminology Students Association, Peer Mentor for the FASS Connections Mentorship Program, and she is a co-founder of the SFU Pre-law Society. She says taking on these positions and volunteering have given her confidence. Her academic achievements, she notes, have not been without some challenges. “University is so different from high school. I always considered myself so independent but I struggled to ask for help especially in my first semesters. My grades suffered. You have to be able to ask for help from your T.A.’s and from your friends. When you build your community it helps build your confidence and you are working together to help each other succeed.”

When asked about the most valuable skill she’s acquired while studying criminology, Bogosavljevic says it’s the ability to think critically about the world around her. “I’ve learned not to take anything at face value and to always be asking questions. Good questions. And that’s not always easy. I was recently traveling back to Serbia recently for my brother’s wedding, and I found myself observing culture, observing my family and being critically aware of not only differences in Canadian and European culture, but differences in gender dynamics, class dynamics or family dynamics.” Bogosavljevic is excited to further hone these skills and to take her research to the next level. In September 2016, she will begin her Master’s degree in Criminology at the University of Ottawa.