Criminology as a Social Science Research Paper

Introduction, belonging to social sciences, criminological theories overlapping with social sciences, preventive social measures in criminology.

Modern legal sciences, for instance, criminal law, have made it possible to formulate the types of crimes, reduce them to criminal codes, determine the forms and methods of crimes, and shape a valuable theoretical background. However, due to the specificity of each of these disciplines, they cannot address the issue of crime in general. Therefore, their gradual development has led to the emergence of a special science that studies crime as a phenomenon existing in society. This is criminology that cannot be separated from many social theories due to its inextricable connection with certain concepts and phenomena about the principles of human behavior, interpersonal communication, and other aspects of human existence. This work aims to present criminology from a social science perspective, present the key theories that overlap across various disciplines, and prove the contiguity of individual approaches to addressing the current challenges and preventing crime.

Criminology cannot be attributed only to legal sciences since it is based on no special legal branch. According to Pridemore et al. (2018), this discipline is a socio-legal theoretical and applied discipline that studies crime as a social phenomenon, the essence and forms of its manifestation, as well as its laws. The reasons and determinants that explain the essence of crime and the motives that induce individuals to defy the law cannot be analyzed without reference to other areas of knowledge, for instance, psychology or sociology. The personalities of those who commit crimes are assessed in a variety of contexts, including demographic characteristics. The development of a system of crime prevention measures, in turn, is impossible without a preliminary assessment and comparison of current social norms and foundations because any restrictions are a consequence of specific preventive rules. Moreover, as Nagin and Sampson (2019) argue, this science is characterized by causal relationships, which is a feature of social research. Therefore, criminology can be presented as a social discipline that uses the existing legal framework for the implementation of the tasks set to detect and prevent crime manifestations.

Many regulations, recommendations, and conclusions of criminology are of a legal nature since they are based on the norms of criminal, executive, procedural, and administrative legislative rules. Thus, in the system of social sciences, criminology can be located at the intersection of sociology and jurisprudence. According to Nagin and Sampson (2019), criminological research is often based on searching for relationships and justifications for specific assumptions or the proof of hypotheses, which are also frequent study methods in social disciplines. Criminology refers to jurisprudence since the phenomena it analyzes are characterized by the legal concepts of a crime or a subject of a crime, depending on the task set. The causes and conditions of crime, in turn, are largely associated with defects in legal consciousness or legal psychology, and some humanitarian disciplines aim to study the specifics of human behavior and motives. In addition, as McClanahan and South (2019) note, the study of crime as a general phenomenon, the causes of crime, the personality of the offender, and crime prevention measures fall within the scope of sociology. Therefore, criminology cannot be called an exclusively legal science due to its sociological background.

In addition to general background, theoretically, criminology and social sciences have common interpretations from the standpoint of individual concepts. Some authors cite different models used in criminology, which, in turn, have a pronounced social connotation (Cohen, 2017). These theories can be applied not only to aspects of crime and criminal or administrative responsibility but also in a more general context. The analysis of such concepts can confirm the social nature of criminology.

One of the related concepts is the theory of social justice that is applicable both to the provisions of criminal law and to universal human social values. This model is based on the concept of natural human rights – the rights to life, freedom, and property. According to Cohen (2017), by following this theory, on the one hand, a person should be given what one deserves, including the offender, and a punishment commensurate with the act should be imposed. On the other hand, an innocent citizen needs protection from criminal encroachments and security, which can be realized through the assessment of the violation of rights (Cohen, 2017). This principle serves as an effective tool to determine the degree of guilt and, at the same time, shapes the basis of interpersonal relationships in society.

Another theory that proves that criminology may be considered one of the social sciences is the concept of free will. As Paternoster (2017) states, this concept assumes that the crime committed by a person, as well as a person’s behavior in general, is the result of one’s choice. The main causal factor in crime is based on the principle of an individual’s free will. A crime is a deliberate and purposeful act, and each offender assesses the likelihood of one’s arrest, conviction, and punishment, including the estimated severity of this punishment. As a result of the influence of these negative circumstances, an antisocial attitude of the personality is formed. Countermeasures against crime are the identification and elimination of negative circumstances that shape specific deviant behavioral patterns.

The social disorganization theory is a concept that finds its application in criminology and, at the same time, explains specific behavioral motives in a social context. According to Liu (2020), this model proceeds from the impossibility or unwillingness of certain individuals or groups to function monolithically in a variety of life situations caused by urbanization, migration, and other unfavorable factors. The lack of cohesion leads to a state of anomie and social disorganization. As Barnes et al. (2019) note, human behavior, as a variable that is studied in different sciences, can be viewed through the prism of statistics. As a result, different cases of deviant behavior are taken in numerical data, which is typical in many social sciences, and concrete ratios can be drawn up, thereby creating a general picture of social behavior. Cohen (2017) argues that “the working class and racial minorities are doubly vulnerable not just to crimes of the powerful but also to predatory street crimes” (p. 246). Thus, one can draw a parallel between criminal behavior and social status, which confirms the connection of criminology with other sciences and its strong sociological background.

While taking into account the diversity of theories, one can note that criminology can have individual research nuances and analytical tools, but in general, the social implications of most of the models are obvious. The evaluation of any concept implies that the main object of discussion is the individual as a social subject exhibiting specific behavioral traits and demonstrating personal motives under different impacts. Therefore, criminology can be viewed from the perspective of social sciences due to this close relationship.

The listed directions of the development of criminology do not exhaust all its branches. At the same time, they show that studying the causes of crime and the development of measures to prevent it is a significant, complex, and multi-level process. The emergence of modern criminological concepts and approaches is greatly influenced by criminal sociology which provides multi-level empirical information and creates a fertile ground for the formation of new directions and schools (McClanahan & South, 2019). Moreover, such new accents contribute to maintaining effective legal regulation and creating preventive activities within the framework of existing knowledge about the social nature of humans. Fighting deviant behavior, addressing the problem of poverty, controlling individual social communities, and some other measures are valuable solutions to address the existing difficulties. Thus, by using approaches from sociology and the psychology of the individual, criminologists can develop theoretical and practical methods for their discipline, which confirms the aforementioned relationship.

Considering criminology from the perspective of social science, one can find many common approaches and concepts that prove the contiguity of different spheres. Modern criminological theories are largely based on social and psychological concepts about the behavior and personality of the offender, as well as one’s motives and incentives. The conducted research confirms the proposed relationship and provides arguments in favor of the use of specific preventive social measures to overcome modern challenges and address the gaps to reduce crime. The findings prove that from a theoretical standpoint, many sciences intersect. Further research may be devoted to studying the practical relationship between criminology and social disciplines.

Barnes, J. C., TenEyck, M. F., Pratt, T. C., & Cullen, F. T. (2019). How powerful is the evidence in criminology? On whether we should fear a coming crisis of confidence . Justice Quarterly , 37 (3), 383-409.

Cohen, S. (2017). Against criminology . Routledge.

Liu, L. (2020). Family, parochial, and public levels of social control and recidivism: An extension of the systemic model of social disorganization . Crime & Delinquency , 66 (6-7), 864-886.

McClanahan, B., & South, N. (2019). ‘All knowledge begins with the senses’: Towards sensory criminology . The British Journal of Criminology , 60 (1), 3-23.

Nagin, D. S., & Sampson, R. J. (2019). The real gold standard: Measuring counterfactual worlds that matter most to social science and policy . Annual Review of Criminology , 2 , 123-145.

Paternoster, R. (2017). Happenings acts, and actions: Articulating the meaning and implications of human agency for criminology. Journal of Developmental and Life-Course Criminology , 3 (4), 350-372.

Pridemore, W. A., Makel, M. C., & Plucker, J. A. (2018). Replication in criminology and the social sciences . Annual Review of Criminology , 1 , 19-38.

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Criminology as social science.

Although a surging social science today, criminology matured through an evolutionary process of shifts in primary focus, from philosophy to crime prevention/ legal reform and then, ultimately, science. As an intellectual domain, criminology comprises contributions from multiple academic disciplines, including psychology, biology, anthropology, law, and, especially, sociology. Although the defining statements of criminology are rooted across these diverse areas, contemporary criminology is becoming ever more intertwined with still additional sciences and professional fields such as geography, social work, and public health. (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

I. Introduction

Ii. defining criminology, iii. the origins and scientific maturation of criminology, iv. theory: methods symmetry and criminology’s disciplinary status, v. criminology as social science, vi. theoretical praxis and the future of criminology.

Criminology is the study of crime, as indicated by the formative Latin terms crimin (accusation or guilt) and -ology (study of). As an intellectual domain, criminology comprises contributions from multiple academic disciplines, including psychology, biology, anthropology, law, and, especially, sociology. Although the defining statements of criminology are rooted across these diverse areas, contemporary criminology is becoming ever more intertwined with still additional sciences and professional fields such as geography, social work, and public health.

This plurality of influences, often referred to as multidisciplinarity, is altogether logical given the complex subject matter and diverse nature of crime. Scholarly attention to crime from various perspectives allows for an extensive range of research questions to be addressed, making possible a fuller understanding of the criminal mind, the nature of crime, and social control processes. Legal scholarship, for example, ranges from philosophical attention to social justice issues to technocratic factors determinant of case outcome. Alternatively, psychology approaches the topic of crime with a focus on individual-level maladjustment and behavioral abnormality. Sociological criminology differs still by concentrating on the multiple causes and nature of crime, as well as society’s reaction to it.

The individuals who study crime, criminologists, engage research on virtually every imaginable aspect of illegality and society’s reactions to it, ranging from the development of theories of crime causation, the roles and uses of social control (e.g., police, courts, and corrections), crime prevention, and victimization. Of course, criminologists have also developed substantial knowledge bases on specific offenses, which are often categorized as (a) crimes against property (e.g., burglary, theft, robbery, and shoplifting); (b) crimes against a person (e.g., homicide, assault, and rape); (c) morality/social order crimes (e.g., gambling, prostitution, substance offenses, vandalism); and now (d) technology crime/cybercrime, which overlaps with and often facilitates crime in each of the other categories. The collective basic knowledge that criminologists have generated through the scientific process has great potential for informing social policy and criminal justice practice through enhancement of the effectiveness and efficiency of prevention, intervention, enforcement, and rehabilitative strategies and practices in the 21st century.

This introductory research paper quickly surveys the emergence and evolution of criminology, from seminal contributions to its contemporary state in academe. While tracing criminology’s history and acknowledging its intellectual diversity (these matters are more fully addressed in Research Paper on History and Evolution of Criminology), it is contended that criminology is correctly understood and best practiced as a social science. Furthermore, as a field of scientific inquiry criminology is no longer a specialty area of other established disciplines, such as deviance within sociology or abnormal psychology, but instead is a new and steadily growing independent academic discipline in its own right. Last, the rise of academic criminal justice is acknowledged as a shaping force on criminology that is steadily moving the discipline toward greater interdisciplinary status and public policy utility.

The terms criminology and criminologist are used rather broadly and interchangeably by the news media and in everyday popular culture expression. Criminologists are, in fact, social scientists, but frequently and erroneously they are confused with other crime-related scientific and investigative roles (e.g., forensics scientist/medical examiner, psychological criminal profiler, and ballistics specialists). Much of the confusion and definitional misunderstanding of what criminology is stems from the different functions the individuals in these roles serve. Although each role is important in the fight against crime, some are not scientific at all and certainly not social science in practice or purpose. Although a surging social science today, criminology matured through an evolutionary process of shifts in primary focus, from philosophy to crime prevention/ legal reform and then, ultimately, science.

The term criminology is attributed to the Frenchman Paul Topinard (1830–1911), who first used it during an 1889 anthropological study of criminality as a function of body types, a line of inquiry later made famous byWilliam Sheldon’s (1940) famous and controversial somatotype theory. Sheldon’s politically incorrect biological thesis, that criminal propensity is predictable according to body shape and size classifications (endomorphs, mesomorphs, ectomorphs), is still debated in popular culture outlets such as the New York Times (Nagourney, 2008) and the social science arena (Maddan,Walker, & Miller, 2008). Although criminology may have originated around physiological foci, most early philosophers of crime were concerned with the functioning of the justice systems of the 18th and 19th centuries and much-needed legal reform.

Over time, criminology has increasingly come to be understood as the study of the causes, dispersion, and nature of crime, with theoretical criminology (i.e., the relating of crime to a plethora of individual, familial, community, and environmental factors known as correlates of crime) dominating the field (Vold, Bernard, & Snipes, 2002). The rise of theoretical criminology between the 1940s and today has proven both scientifically rewarding and limiting. On the reward side is a wide range of empirically valid theories that, however, are often criticized for lack of real-world utility. Nonetheless, theoretical criminology is the cornerstone of academic criminology, both historically and today, and is the core of a young discipline that is evolving toward greater pragmatism in terms of applied criminology. An applied criminology suggests that strategies and initiatives intended to prevent and lessen crime are informed by scientifically established theoretical insights that are predictably capable of enhancing best practices within and around the criminal justice system.

The foremost pioneer of contemporary, and particularly American, criminology, Edwin Sutherland, offered what has proven to be a lasting definition, which is most often used to describe the field, in his seminal book Principles of Criminology (1939). According to Sutherland, criminology can be defined as follows:

Criminology is the body of knowledge regarding crime as a social phenomenon. It includes within its scope the processes of making laws, of breaking laws, and of reacting toward the breaking of laws. These processes are three aspects of a somewhat unified sequence of interactions. (p. 1)

It is interesting to note that whereas criminology is typically considered the study of the causes and nature of crime, and is often contrasted with criminal justice, which is concerned with the response to the problem of crime, Sutherland’s famous definition clearly emphasized the significance of both. Consequently, criminology today is viewed somewhat dichotomously, with theoretical or sociological criminology denoting a focus on crime causation or the etiology of crime and applied criminology denoting work that is prevention, enforcement, or treatment oriented.

Historical concern with crime is traceable to ancient Babylonia and the Code of Hammurabi, as well as biblical times, as evidenced by Old Testament dictates on restitution and the proportionality of punishment. Whereas such early edicts on infraction and punishment informed understanding of social control and justice, the origins of contemporary criminology stem from the Enlightenment period of the late 18th century, particularly the social and intellectual reforms then underway in western Europe. Philosophers from this period, such as Voltaire, Rousseau, and Locke, observed the superiority of reasoning based on direct experience and observation over subscription to faith and superstition that characterized collective opinion throughout the feudal era. Prior to this shift toward logic, crime was addressed informally within and between families whose recognition of justice was largely equated with realization of revenge (Larson, 1984).

The family-revenge model of justice, as observed in multigenerational feuds between Scottish clans, presented social-order maintenance and governing problems for feudal lords whose solutions were trial by battle and then trial by ordeal. Under trial by battle, either the victim or a member of the victim’s family would fight the offender or a member of his or her family; under trial by ordeal, the accused was subjected to some “test” that would indicate guilt or innocence, such as running through a gauntlet or being repeatedly dunked in water while bound by rope. Both approaches were vested in the spiritual notion of divine intervention. In battle, God would grant victory to the innocent side and likewise protect the falsely accused during trial by ordeal, as in the biblical report of protection afforded the prophet Daniel in the lions’ den (J. M. Miller, Schreck, & Tewksbury, 2008).

Obviously, these methods failed to effect justice relative to a person’s true guilt or innocence, instead yielding outcomes specific to a person’s fighting ability, the capability to withstand various kinds of torture, or simply luck. The idea of being controlled by an evil spirit or that one’s criminal behavior is attributable to the influence of the devil or some other “dark” force has long been a basis by which people have attempted to account for the unexplainable. Examples from early U.S. history include the Salem witch trials, wherein crime and deviance problems that could not be solved through actual facts and inquiry were attributed to witchcraft and demonic possession. The origins, for example, of “correctional” institutions in Philadelphia by Quakers who believed that isolation, labor, and Bible reading would result in repentance, reflect an early spiritually based form of rehabilitation. The term penitentiary, in fact, refers to institutions where society’s crime problems were addressed through religious conversion and illustrates belief in spirituality as a source of and solution to crime. Although the Enlightenment period introduced a novel logic alternative to spiritual explanations, spirituality continued to affect interpretations of both crime causation and systems of justice for several centuries and is still relevant to current crime policy, as indicated by faith-based prevention and rehabilitation programming (Allen, 2003).

Although the Enlightenment period did not completely end the belief that spirituality affects crime, the momentum of experience-based reasoning led to a general view of social life and human behavior that served as a forerunner to criminology. One of the primary concepts from this era that was important for the development of criminology is the idea of the social contract. First introduced by Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679), the social contract involves the sacrifice of some personal freedom through internalization of law and endorsement of formal social control in exchange for protection and the benefit of all. For example, it is likely that either alone or with the aid of a friend you could forcibly take personal property, such as a wallet, purse, or textbook, from someone on an almost daily basis. Similarly, there is likely an individual or group that could forcibly take your property. Despite these obvious realities, everyone generally enjoys freedom of movement with peace and safety. By sacrificing your ability to take what you might from others, you are protected from similar victimization. This trade-off of loss of potential gain through limiting free will in exchange for law and order is an oversimplified example of the social contract (J. M. Miller et al., 2008).

As a result of the Enlightenment period, then, superstitionand spirituality-based orientations to crime were uprooted by innovative ways of thinking that emphasized relationships between criminal behavior and punishment. This newer approach, exemplified in the writings of the Italian Cesare Beccaria (1738–1794) and the Englishman Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832), is known as the classical school of criminology, a perspective around which criminology would solidify and develop (Bierne, 1993). Notionally grounded in the concepts of deterrence and the dimensions of punishment (certainty, severity, and celerity), the classical school is significant for the development of criminological thought in at least two respects. First, crime was no longer believed to be a function of religion, superstition, or myth—views that largely placed the problem of crime beyond human control. Second, crime was seen as the result of free will. Viewing crime as a function of free will—in essence, as decision making—meant that it could now be explained as an outcome of rational choice. The ideation of rational thought (a calculation of gains vs. risks) suggests that crime is logically related to the elements impacting the decision to offend, such as the amount and relative value of criminal proceeds and the likelihood of detection, arrest, and conviction. The principles of the classical school, revised by legal reformers (neoclassicists) and now referred to as rational choice theory, continue to influence both the study of criminal behavior and the nature of formal social control as the criminal justice system continues in the attempt to achieve deterrence as one of its primary objectives (Paternoster & Brame, 1997).

Paradigm (i.e., model or school of thought) shifts are common to the history of all academic disciplines, and criminology is no exception. A new philosophy began emerging in Europe during the 19th century that first emphasized the application of the scientific method. This perspective, known as positivism, stressed the identification of patterns and consistencies in observable facts (Bryant, 1985). It was believed that, by examining known patterns, causes of behavior could be determined that would enable predictions about outcomes when certain conditions exist. For example, one can ascertain a pattern of comparatively high criminality in the lower socioeconomic class. Given the absence of other intervening factors, one can predict a rise in lower class criminality if a sharp increase in unemployment affects unskilled laborers. Regardless of whether this relationship is true, this line of thinking differs from the classical school’s attention to free-will decision making, positing crime instead as a manifestation of factors external to and often beyond the control of individuals. Criminology did not move straight from a free-will orientation to endorsement of external influences; in between these perspectives was an era dominated by determinism.

Determinism takes the position that human behavior is caused by factors specific to the individual, such as biological and psychological traits. Perhaps the most famous figure associated with determinism in the context of criminality is Cesare Lombroso (1835–1909), whose “criminal type” illustrated in his influential work Criminal Man (1863) suggests that some people, such as convicted murderer and notorious contract killer, who has been featured in several HBO documentaries, Richard “The Iceman” Kuklinski (1935–2006), are simply born criminals. Lombroso’s work, furthered by his student Raffaele Garofalo (1851–1934), was essential to viewing crime in a newer, more scientific light. As criminology continued to develop, determinism became more broadly viewed, with the inclusion of environmental and community criminogenic influences. In the evolution of American criminology, positivism began replacing the classical approach to crime during the 1920s, largely due to the rise of the Chicago School, a movement resulting from a series of seminal studies conducted by staff of the University of Chicago sociology department. From the 1920s through the 1940s, the Chicago School demonstrated that crime is largely a function of ecology, in particular the social disorganization that characterizes much of urban life.

The social ecological approach to crime is less concerned with the ways in which criminals and noncriminals differ in terms of intelligence, physical characteristics, or personality and more attentive to economic disadvantage, community cohesion, collective efficacy, and social stability. The Chicago School crime studies of Shaw and McKay (1942), Merton (1938), and Sutherland (1939) grounded U.S. criminology in sociology and established a dominant paradigm, or model of inquiry, oriented toward specifying environmental and community-level causes of crime and delinquency (e.g., Kornhauser, 1978). American criminology since its inception, then, has been conceptualized in theoretical terms—a perspective that has very much shaped its maturation. Although theory is vital to criminology in terms of justifying scientific status, confirmation of hypotheses (i.e., empirical proof) is also necessary and, as discussed in the next section, engaged through an intellectual process of theory–methods symmetry.

Science is the discovery of truths that comprise knowledge bases on particular topics. Determination of what is to be included or excluded in a knowledge base is a result of which ideas stand the test of scientific scrutiny, that is, which ideas are consistently observed in a systematic manner as factual according to real-world evidence. Accordingly, science is an outcome of theories (ideas) validated by research methods (empirical confirmation). Although leading criminological theories and many of the frequently employed research methods are treated in greater detail throughout the research papers in this category, the general nature of theory and its importance to criminology’s past, present, and future warrants a little more introductory discussion.

What exactly is theory? Perhaps the most concise definition of theory is simply “explanation.” Too often, theory is erroneously thought of as philosophy or logic that has little relevance for real-world situations. In reality, theory is a part of everyday life, an attempt to make sense and order of events that are otherwise unexplainable. Think, for example, about the following common scenario. After dating for a long time, a college couple’s relationship is abruptly ended by one of the parties. Surprised and disturbed by this sudden and unwanted change, the rejected person will usually contemplate, often at great length with the counsel of friends, the reasons or causes leading to the outcome. Even if knowing why will not change the situation, we still want to know the reasons—the sole or set of causal factors— perhaps because making sense of seemingly random events reassures us that the social world is not chaotic and arbitrary. On a more pragmatic level, knowing why things happen enables us to modify our behavior or change relevant circumstances for a more preferable outcome in the future. In the case of criminology, the more fully we understand crime, its causes, and the evolution of criminal careers, the more ostensibly enhanced is our ability to prevent victimization and reduce crime rates.

Developing explanations for everyday events, then, is a common practice that entails identifying and weighing the relevance of potential causes and effects, which is a form of theoretical construction. Although theory is useful and commonplace in everyday life, academics often refer to scientific theory. Simply put, scientific theories are a means of explaining natural occurrences through statements about the relationships between observable phenomena. Observable phenomena are specified as either a cause or an effect and then positioned in a temporally ordered relationship statement. The causes and effects are termed variables (a variable is simply something that varies and is not constant). These formal statements, which are presented as hypotheses, are formed to explain or predict how some observable factor, or a combination of factors, is related to the phenomena being examined (in the context of criminology, some aspect of crime or social control). These relationships, which form specific theories of crime, are developed according to the logic of variable analysis. This analytic strategy specifies causal elements as independent variables and effects as dependent variables.

In criminology, not surprisingly, crime itself is the foremost dependent variable. It is imperative to note that the strategy of variable analysis is not interested in explaining crime per se; that is, the objective is not to explain what crime is in a definitional, policy, or legal sense. Instead, the variable analysis process seeks to account for variation in crime. Most theories conceptualize crime as a generic dichotomy, that is, the separation of phenomena into one of two categories. When crime is the dependent variable in a theory, further scrutiny usually reveals that theorists are actually referring to either criminality or crime rate. Criminality refers to the extent and frequency of offending by a societal group, such as the young, minorities, illegal immigrants, the unemployed, or people from a certain region. Crime rate, on the other hand, refers to the level of crime in a location such as a city, county, or state. The focus on either criminality or crime rate is observable in the framing of different research questions: Why is there more homicide in Los Angeles than in San Antonio? Why are males more criminal than females?Again, the goal is not to explain or define the crime itself but rather to account for variability and fluctuation in criminality or crime rate across locales, social settings, groups, or over time.

After specifying causal and dependent variables, criminologists consider the nature of observed relationships to determine inference and possible implications. The information revealed from a theoretical proposition is interpreted by the condition of correlation: a covariance of factors or variables specified by the direction and strength of fluctuation in a dependent variable attributed to one or more independent variables. Directional correlation generally specifies either a positive or negative relationship. These terms do not mean the same thing as when used in everyday language. The expressions “My bank account is finally positive” and “She has a negative attitude” are value laden and indicate desirable and undesirable conditions. In the social sciences, a positive correlation more simply means that an independent variable and dependent variable fluctuate in the same direction, such as a group’s level of unemployment and involvement in criminal activity. A negative correlation indicates that independent and dependent variables covary in opposite directions, such as educational attainment and crime (with the obvious exception of white-collar offenses).

Consideration of the relationship between school grades and the status offense of truancy provides a clear illustration of directional correlation. Suppose a criminologist gathers data on both absences and grades from a large sample of randomly selected middle and high school students. If findings support the hypothesis that increased absences (the independent variable) bring about lower grades (the dependent variable), then a negative correlation exists, as would a decrease in absences be associated with academic improvement. In the latter scenario, the correlation, though negative in social science jargon, is the desirable outcome.

The strength of a correlation, on the other hand, specifies the degree of covariance between independent and dependent variables. For example, a gang prevention program delivered to an increased number of parents may effect only a minimal decrease in new gang affiliations. This relationship suggests an undesirable outcome, not because the correlation is negative but because the independent variable generated only little change in the dependent variable—perhaps because the parents of gang members are less likely to sincerely participate in an awareness program in the first place. The strength of a correlation is ascertained through statistical analysis, enabling the exact determination of covariance between variables as indicated by statistical significance parameters.

To analyze theoretical propositions, independent and dependent variables are transformed from a nominal or categorical to a measurable level, a conversion process known as operationalization. Operational definitions, then, enable empirical examination of cause-and-effect relationships by specifying measurable indicators for variables. How a variable is defined will affect the nature of a relationship and yield different (and possibly undesirable) implications for addressing crime. The following example of measuring recidivism demonstrates how important the measurement process is and how easily measurement error can occur.

Recidivism (repeat criminal offending) is one of the most common theoretically based dependent variables used in criminological research, especially as an effectiveness indicator for criminal justice prevention and enforcement programs. Depending on whether recidivism is being considered in a law enforcement, court, or correctional context (all three of which conduct deterrence and rehabilitation programs whose success is largely indicated by recidivism), the act of reoffending is likely to be operationally defined differently according to the immediate context. Repeat offenses are typically measured in law enforcement contexts as the rate of rearrest. Although it is seemingly natural and understandable that rearrest be used as a measure of police productivity, it falsely conveys the assumption that everyone who is rearrested will be convicted and thus potentially overestimates or exaggerates the perceived level of reoffending. Court-based operational definitions more accurately measure repeat offending as reconvictions, which is technically more consistent with legally determined official realities, but in correctional contexts reoffending is often calculated as reincarceration. Measuring reincarceration as an indicator of recidivism can also distort the true level of reoffending by not including convicted persons whose sanction did not include jail or prison time (J. M. Miller et al., 2008).

The strength and direction of correlations, then, serve the objective of determining causation, that is, whether the independent variable(s) prompt change in a dependent variable and, if so, in what manner. In order to have confidence in observed causal relationships, there must also be both specificity and accuracy in the measurement process, a methodological challenge in the study of a phenomenon that is inherently hidden, covert, and secretive.

Not all criminological research is engaged according to positivistic variable analysis toward the goal of establishing causal relations per statistical significance demonstration; instead, subjectivism exists as the foremost alternative philosophical paradigm in the social sciences. Subjectivists focus on discovery and description of the nature of criminal events; the social dynamics of group interaction in the specification and maintenance of criminal stereotypes and definitions; and the role of social forces, such as culture, that are not easily measured for variable analysis. Often referred to as fieldwork or ethnography, qualitative criminological research is vital to the overall criminological knowledge base because it enables scientific attention to realities that cannot be measured because they are unknown (e.g., the population of prostitutes in a city) or are unreachable by traditional overt criminological research methods such as surveys or official data analysis. Some qualitative criminologists, known as edge ethnographers, go so far in the research endeavor as to place themselves in active criminal settings so as to observe first hand the immediacy of crime (Ferrell & Hamm, 1998; J. M. Miller & Tewksbury, 2001).

Numerous causal explanations that constitute theoretical criminology have been developed and tested; similarly, various research methods, both quantitative and qualitative, are regularly applied in the analysis of crime phenomena. Criminology thus offers, and is defined by, theory–methods symmetry to the practice of social inquiry. Characterizing theory as scientific means that inferential claims about relationships (the observed correlations) can be falsified. Research entails gathering data according to the operationalization process so that the theory is framed for systematic observation of cause and effect. The analysis and conclusions concerning the existence, nature, and implications of relationships are then compared with the conceptual logic of the theory itself.When observations are inconsistent with the basic premises of a theory, that theory is falsified. Observations that are consistent with a theory’s statements about the relationship between cause-and-effect statements are customarily deemed more credible, but this does not mean the theory is necessarily true, because alternative theories might explain the same relationships.

Criminologists especially seek the answers to a wide range of research questions that focus on causality: Will increasing the severity of punishment lower the amount of crime in society? Do fines levied against the parents of truant children increase levels of parental responsibility and ultimately result in less truancy? Does a substance abuse treatment program in a correctional setting impact prisoners’ rate of recidivism and drug relapse? These and similar questions reflect the desire to specify causal relationships that in turn may yield implications for criminal justice practice. Causation, in the context of scientific theorizing, requires demonstration of four main elements: (1) logical basis, (2) temporal order, (3) correlation, and (4) a lack of spuriousness. These are discussed in turn in the following paragraphs.

Scientific theory, just like any type of accurate explanation, requires sound reasoning. There must be a logical basis for believing that a causal relationship exists between observable phenomena. Criminologists are not concerned with offenders’ hair or eye color when attempting to account for their behavior, for example, because there simply is no logical connection between these physical traits and criminal behavior. A second necessary element for scientific theory construction is temporal order—that is, the time sequence of cause-and-effect elements. In short, causal factors must precede outcomes, as in the relationship between religious involvement and morality crime. Faith-based initiatives are vested in the belief that religious-based programs will better social conditions, including a reduction in crime. If offenders participate in religious programs (the independent variable) and subscribe to the convictions of religious doctrine condemning behavior such as gambling, commercial sex, and recreational substance use and abuse, then a reduction in their commission of these vice crimes (the dependent variable) would appear to be a causal relationship, because the religious programming both preceded and logically prompted the decreased involvement in the specified behaviors.

Correlation, as described earlier, is a third required element of a scientific theory. Correlation, again, indicates the presence of a relationship between observable phenomena and the nature of the relationship in terms of direction and strength. The last essential element for scientific theory development involves the condition of spuriousness. Most subcultures, for example, tend to be characterized by poverty, which confuses the causal relationship between subculture and crime in that it may be poverty that causes crime, and subcultures simply emerge within impoverished groups. Alternatively, it could be that cultural values encourage behavior manifested in both poverty and crime. Thus, the relationship among subculture, poverty, and crime is spurious, because cause and effect cannot be determined. Theorists, then, must frame relationship statements that reflect an absence of spuriousness. By adhering to these four axioms, criminologists increase the likelihood or probability that relationship statements are accurate.

Although much of the criminological theory construction during the 1950s through the 1970s was basic research (the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake), criminologists came to observe that, once constructed and established, theoretical perspectives yield consequences, both intended and unintended, for criminals, victims, policymakers, and the general public. The idea of theoretical praxis (Shover, 1977) concerns not only the historical and cultural relativity but also, more importantly, the real-world impact of theories. Theories, once established, not only explain crime but also can significantly influence the behavior of both criminals and agents of social control.

The emergence of academic criminal justice during the 1970s has profoundly impacted criminology in both contrasting and complimentary ways. Given that criminology was primarily a specialty area within sociology and that the bulk of social control and deviance research therein (e.g., theory construction and testing) was pure, no academic discipline was postured to address crime per se, a very real and pressing concern during the late 1960s and 1970s—a period of great social unrest characterized by a failing economy, civil rights controversies, and the Vietnam conflict. Through the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration Act, Congress sought to professionalize the criminal justice system with graduates of newly created “police science” and “penology” baccalaureate programs that were springing up around the nation. Established by the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 and abolished in 1982, the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration Act was a U.S. federal agency within the U.S. Justice Department that administered federal funding to state and local law enforcement agencies. Funding was provided for research, state planning agencies, local crime initiatives, and educational programs— the primary catalyst for what we know as criminal justice programs today (Morn, 1995).

Experientially based and rooted more so in public administration than social science, criminal justice programs originally focused on preparing students for practitioner and administrative careers in the prongs of the criminal justice system (policing, courts, and corrections) and were quickly dubbed a “professional” field—a somewhat pejorative term based on the atheoretical and thus unscientific nature of criminal justice. It is illogical to attempt to solve problems, social or otherwise, that have not been thoroughly defined or understood. Relatedly, the anti-crime suggestions offered by early criminal justice scientists were often based on what had proven successful in the past, with little or no concern for the scientific axioms discussed earlier. On the other hand, the most comprehensive knowledge base on crime is of little practical utility for social betterment without a real-world-applicable context.

For several decades, there has been tension between criminology and criminal justice that has witnessed the emergence of both criminology and criminal justice as independent fields of study. The future of criminology will no doubt remain rooted in theory construction and testing, but it is also obvious that increased attention will be devoted to developing best practices for policy based on these models. In this sense, criminology will likely continue to evolve from its theoretical origins, but in a manner more mindful of public policy. Whether criminology and criminal justice merge into a master discipline is doubtful, but theory will remain vital, for several reasons. It provides a scientific orientation to the phenomenon of crime, in which observations of facts are specified and classified as causes and effects. It grounds several styles of inquiry in the logic of systematic analysis. More important, the relationships between causes and effects can be identified, thus composing a knowledge base to guide decision making and planning concerning how to best address the problems presented by crime. Criminological theorizing is increasingly generating practice and policy implications and, as such, bolsters and is an integral part of applied research. Even the pure theorists, who may have no particular interest in addressing a specific crime or delinquency issue, may generate the knowledge necessary for others to modify the criminal justice system’s efforts. There is, then, a connection between theory and policy reflected in the increasing multidisciplinarity of contemporary criminology that is likely to be a major force in the future of the discipline.


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In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section The Social and Intellectual Context of Criminology


  • Origins of Criminology
  • Maturation of the Field
  • North American Criminology
  • European Criminology and Views across Countries
  • Scholarly Communities and Networks
  • Criminology within Academic Institutional Contexts
  • The Political Economy
  • Biographies and Autobiographies

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The Social and Intellectual Context of Criminology by Joachim J. Savelsberg LAST REVIEWED: 10 April 2017 LAST MODIFIED: 24 April 2012 DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396607-0094

A hallmark of established academic fields is systematic self-reflection and scientific thought about the state of the field and the degree of embeddedness in the intellectual and social contexts on which each depends. Criminology, understood here as the scientific study of criminal behavior and its causes and of the constitution and control of crime by states and societies, is a relatively new academic field. It has developed most of its own institutions, undergraduate and graduate programs, scholarly associations, journals, and funding programs in the course of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. The call for scientific thought about the nature and environment of criminology as an intellectual and scientific endeavor has been raised with growing intensity, but the scientific study of criminology in this sense is still in its infancy. While some studies of criminology as a scholarly field fit well in the tradition of the history or sociology of science, many contributions are, albeit insightful at times, everyday accounts of criminology’s practitioners (akin to a criminology that seeks to explain crime through narratives of people who engage in it). Risks are increased for at least three reasons. First, such analysts have a vested interest in the institutions of this field. Second, criminology grows in close proximity to the state and its massive institutions of control (as a funding source and supplier of concepts and data). Third, its applied branch supplies government authorities with advice on how to effectively use their monopoly of the legitimate use of force toward citizens. Criminology has distinct roots in different countries and on different continents, and it has undergone massive shifts in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. These features are reflected in the organization of this bibliography by historic time and places, diverse social forces affecting criminology, and atypical genres such as (auto-)biographies. Many publications could be placed under more than one category of course; in these cases we chose the category that best fits. We did not include newsletter contributions in which some thought about the state of criminology is reflected.

Historic Time and Stages

In the absence of a unifying approach, different contributions present distinct ways in which long-term changes in the field of criminology can be understood in their intellectual and social environment. Short and Hughes 2007 combines insights drawn by the authors from a long career in criminology and impressive credentials in sociology with an effort to draw on promising innovations in the sociology of science, such as found in Abbott 2001 . Scull 1988 also draws on insights from the sociology of science to describe the development of social control research. While in need of updating, the Scull 1988 handbook chapter is highly informative and provides a formidable example for a systematic analysis of the unfolding of social control research in its social and intellectual context. Rafter 2010 builds on the author’s long career and her many contributions to the history of criminology (see also the section Origins of Criminology ). Determined to put an end to the lack of criminology’s self-reflectivity, Rafter 2010 offers a stage model, as does Laub 2004 .

Abbott, Andrew. 2001. Chaos of disciplines . Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

Explores the development of the social sciences, challenging the notion of progress and replacing it with that of cycles around core principles and fractals. Examples include moments in the history of criminology and challenges posed to problem-oriented interdisciplinary fields in establishing new disciplines.

Laub, John H. 2004. The life course of criminology in the United States: The American Society of Criminology 2003 Presidential Address. Criminology 42.1: 1–26.

DOI: 10.1111/j.1745-9125.2004.tb00511.x

Applies the life-course perspective to the development of criminology as a field to equip it with a sense of its own history. Discusses three “life-course” phases of criminology (with associated continuities and turning points) in the United States since the beginning of the 20th century. Available online by subscription.

Rafter, Nicole. 2010. Silence and memory in criminology: The American Society of Criminology 2009 Sutherland Address. Criminology 48.2: 339–355.

DOI: 10.1111/j.1745-9125.2010.00188.x

Discusses conditions and consequences of the paucity of studies of criminology’s past. The author proposes a historical framework reaching back to the late 18th century and focusing on scientific modernism with three main phases: exploratory, confident, and agnostic. Goal is to stimulate study of the history and sociology of criminology. Available online by subscription.

Scull, Andrew T. 1988. Deviance and social control. In Handbook of sociology . Edited by Neil J. Smelser, 667–693. Newbury Park, CA: SAGE.

Traces the development of ideas from those of early-20th-century sociologists, who focused on individual deviants and were concerned with morality and social order, to those of the 1970s, based on structural and cultural conditions of (and reactions to) crime that were more strongly rooted in sociological theory. Recent intellectual debate and disagreement in the field has engendered development of ideas surrounding the state and social control.

Short, James F., Jr., with Lorine A. Hughes. 2007. Criminology, criminologists, and the sociological enterprise. In Sociology in America: A history . Edited by Craig Calhoun, 605–638. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

In a chapter partly organized chronologically and drawing on various sources from the sociology of science and disciplines, the authors insightfully dissect, in unusual detail, the shifting relationship between sociology and criminology and the building of niches and growing specialization, but they also deal with the occasional cross-fertilization across the boundaries of subfields and disciplines.

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Criminology is an academic discipline devoted to the scientific study of crime and criminal behavior. Although contemporary criminology is multidisciplinary, encompassing a variety of fields such as anthropology, biology, economics, law, political science, psychiatry, and psychology, the sociological approach to criminology is especially dominant. While the central focus of criminology is to examine the causes and consequences of crime and criminal behavior, contemporary criminology also contains a number of other subareas of inquiry. The sociology of law is a subarea concerned with the role of social forces in the creation, modification, and application of laws. The specialty area of criminal statistics and crime measurement focuses on developing reliable measures of criminal activity. Victimology is a specialty area concerned with the role of the victim in the criminal process, and especially how society responds to the needs of victims. Finally, criminologists are also...

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Baier, C. J., & Wright, B. R. E. (2001). “If you love me, keep my commandments”: A meta-analysis of the effect of religion on crime. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 38 , 3–21.

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Barlow, H. (2007). Dead for good: Martyrdom and the rise of the suicide bomber . Boulder: Paradigm Publishers.

Cullen, F. T., & Agnew, R. (2011). Criminological theory: Past to present . New York: Oxford University Press.

Miller, M. K. (2006). Religion in criminal justice . New York: LFB Scholarly.

Miller, H. V. (Ed.). (2008). Restorative justice: From theory to practice . Bingley: JAI Emerald Group.

O’Connor, T. P., Duncan, J., & Quillard, F. (2006). Criminology and religion: The shape of an authentic dialogue. Criminology & Public Policy, 5 , 559–570.

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Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal Justice, Canisius College OM-016 C, 2001 Main Street, Buffalo, NY, 14208, USA

Prof. Patricia E. Erickson J.D., Ph.D. ( Professor of Sociology and Criminal Justice )

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Anne L. C. Runehov

Pontificia Universita Antonianum, Roma, Italia

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Erickson, P.E. (2013). Criminology. In: Runehov, A.L.C., Oviedo, L. (eds) Encyclopedia of Sciences and Religions. Springer, Dordrecht.

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Criminology: A Very Short Introduction

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Criminology: A Very Short Introduction

1 (page 1) p. 1 Introducing criminology

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‘Introducing criminology’ explains that according to American criminologist, Edwin Sutherland, criminology is the body of knowledge regarding crime as a social phenomenon including within its scope the process of making and breaking laws, and reacting to the breaking of laws. Criminology dates back to the late 18th century when small groups of people developed an interest in explaining crime alongside their main occupations such as running asylums or collecting statistics on prisons or court proceedings. There was no form of collective enterprise until the end of the 19th century. During the 20th century, ‘criminology’ gradually formed and solidified. Its constitutive disciplines include sociology, history, psychology, law, and statistics.

In one of his few observations about crime, and in this case slightly tongue in cheek, Karl Marx said, ‘A philosopher produces ideas, a poet poems, a clergyman sermons, a professor compendia and so on. A criminal produces crimes.’ His point was that while we may be used to thinking of crime in moral terms, as something to be avoided or prevented, it can also be seen as a branch of production. ‘Would locks ever have reached their present degree of excellence had there been no thieves?’, he asked. That we see some acts as crimes, and the people who commit these things as criminals, gives rise to a wide variety of occupations and professions: from police, prison, and probation officers, to court officials and judges, and, of course, criminologists. That so many ‘benefit’ from crime—including people like me—is a reminder to us, if we need it, that the business of criminology is not a neutral one.

The eminent American scholar, Edwin Sutherland, writing over three-quarters of a century ago, observed that criminology is the body of knowledge regarding crime as a social phenomenon that includes within its scope the process of making laws, of breaking laws, and of reacting towards the breaking of laws. Though there are a variety of issues that one can take with this definition—not least as a consequence of the observation earlier about the behaviour of the powerful—it still serves as a helpful introduction to what the subject is about.

Criminology has its origins in the late 18th century and began, it has been argued, as a series of cottage industries, each the product of small groups of people developing an interest in explanations for crime alongside their main occupations such as running asylums or collecting statistics on prisons or court proceedings. Such work carried on largely independently rather than as any form of collective enterprise until the late 19th to early 20th century. Furthermore, few if any of these scholars would have referred to themselves as ‘criminologists’. At this point, such work would most likely have been labelled anthropology, jurisprudence, political economy, psychiatry, phrenology, science of police, or statistics.

One consequence of this is that there is little agreement as to how criminology should be seen and done. So, what is a criminologist? When I’m asked what I do, I’m never sure what kind of response saying ‘criminologist’ will produce. Some people have been known to greet this news with long diatribes about the woeful state of the criminal justice system and why we need to lock people up and throw away the key. Others will respond with an excited reaction, wanting to know what it is like to set about catching criminals. Still others, much influenced by the CSI franchise of TV programmes, will ask something about the latest techniques for criminal profiling and, of course, about serial killers.

At the risk of losing readers on page 3, now is the time to admit that these assumptions about criminology are, at best, a little wide of the mark. Most of my colleagues and I are not involved—certainly in any day-to-day way—in investigating crime. Although there are forensic specialists out there, CSI-style work generally does not feature in mainstream criminology. And while my job has its occasional excitements, that is much more to do with seeing my students succeed than it is the thrill of chasing serial killers.

In the hope that you are still with me at this point, a few words now about what this book is actually about. My aim is to give you an insight into the nature of criminology; to raise some of the more important questions confronting criminology; to puncture certain myths about crime and criminals; and to use some of the latest research to give a sense of what we know about crime and criminality—and, therefore of course, also of what we still can’t claim to know.

Having looked at the nature of crime and criminality, together with trends in crime, we will turn our attention to the matter of how we respond to, and deal with, crime. We will learn a little about the limits of the formal criminal justice system (police, courts, prisons, and so on), and think a little about the role of more informal sources of social control such as families, schools, and neighbourhoods. Linked with this, and last of all, we will look at what is known about crime prevention: that burgeoning body of activity that focuses on how to make crime less easy or less attractive to commit.

In a 500-page book entitled What is Criminology? published a few years ago, over thirty authors examined various aspects of contemporary criminology. Their concerns varied from the nature of criminology, how it should be done, through to its purpose and its impact. The image of criminology that emerges from the volume is of a highly variegated subject, full of critical self-examination, containing individuals with widely differing perspectives and priorities. That so many differences and disagreements exist is, in my view, more a source of strength than it is of weakness. It is indicative of a subject rich in possibilities and one, I will hope to persuade you, full of exciting and important questions.

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Home / Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs / Accredited Online Criminal Justice & Criminology Degree / Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice Resources / What Is Criminology? The Study of Crime and Criminal Minds

What is criminology? The study of crime and the criminal mind What is criminology? The study of crime and the criminal mind What is criminology? The study of crime and the criminal mind

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Tables of Contents

  • Criminology Definition and History
  • Criminology Theories
  • Criminology vs. Criminal Justice

Careers in Criminology: Salary and Job Outlook

  • Crime Statistics and Key Insights

In a time when the U.S. criminal justice system is under a microscope, criminologists are playing a key role in establishing a more equitable, science-based understanding of crime, policy, and social justice. Applying their theoretical knowledge and practical experience, professionals in this field support and strengthen the work of law enforcement agencies and legal professionals.

But what is criminology, really? This article will explore the many components of this rapidly evolving discipline and offer insights on how to pursue a variety of criminology careers.

criminology as a social science essay

Criminology definition and history

Criminology is the study of crime and criminal behavior, informed by principles of sociology and other non-legal fields, including psychology, economics, statistics, and anthropology.

Criminologists examine a variety of related areas , including:

  • Characteristics of people who commit crimes
  • Reasons why people commit crimes
  • Effects of crime on individuals and communities
  • Methods for preventing crime

Origins of criminology

The  roots of criminology  trace back to a movement to reform criminal justice and penal systems more than 200 years ago. The first collection and use of crime statistics in the 19th century then laid the groundwork for generations of increasingly sophisticated tools and methods, leading to our modern use of descriptive statistics, case studies, typologies, and predictive analytics.

18th-century origins of criminal theory

Cesare Beccaria’s “On Crime and Punishments,” published in 1764, called for  fitting the punishment to the severity of the crimes , as explained by the National Criminal Justice Reference Service.

  • Punishments for crimes should be “public, prompt, necessary, the minimum possible under the given circumstances, and established by law.”
  • Punishments are intended to deter the offender from further criminal activity.
  • Severity is based on the level of harm caused by the offense rather than the intent of the offender.

The legal reference website JRank highlights the work of Beccaria and Jeremy Benthem: The motivation for people’s choices is to seek pleasure or avoid pain.  Punishment for a crime  should deter potential choices to break the law by ensuring that the pain of potential punishment is greater than the pleasure derived from committing the crime. This idea spurred the first efforts in the U.S. and Europe to codify and standardize the law.

Mid-20th century development of modern criminology

The mid-20th century development of  “modern” criminology  involved seeking to understand crime’s causes by studying sociological, psychological, and economic conditions. The American Law Institute’s work on the  Model Penal Code  was a 10-year effort completed in 1962. The code established new standards of criminal liability that considered the mental elements of crime.

The code served as a model for penal code revisions in several states. It was also instrumental in charting the federal penal code for the first time. The code inspired other efforts to reform criminal law through criminology research application.

“New Criminology” and the impact of social upheaval on crime

In the 20th century, new approaches to criminology focused on the causes of crime, such as  conflicts between social and economic classes leading to social upheaval , as JRank explains. Social-process criminology emphasizes criminal behavior as something people learn through interaction with others, usually in small groups.

In contrast, control theory focuses on training people to behave appropriately by encouraging law-abiding behavior. Control theory’s basis is the belief that personal bonds give rise to our internal controls, such as conscience and guilt, and our external controls, such as shame, that deter us from breaking the law.

A multidisciplinary approach to criminology

In their research, criminologists consider many perspectives on crime’s causes and effects. This  multidisciplinary approach of criminologists  accepts there is no single answer to why people commit crimes. JRank notes attempts to control bad behavior date back to the earliest civilizations. Today, factors may be biological, psychological, economic, or social. Criminals are motivated by greed, anger, jealousy, pride, and other emotions. They seek material gain; they want control, revenge, or power.

Potential causes of or motivations for criminal activity include:

  • Parental relations
  • Hereditary and brain activity
  • Peer influence
  • Drugs and alcohol
  • Easy opportunity

Criminology and the legal perspective

Criminologists study crime as an illegal action society punishes through the government’s legal system. Researchers focus on the causes, prevention, and correction of crime generally. By contrast, the legal industry’s perspective of crime emphasizes specific crimes and punishments governed by statutes and regulations, as well as established legal processes.

The legal definition of a crime is  an offense against public law , as UpCounsel explains. To qualify as a crime, the offense must be punishable, whether by fine, loss of freedom, or other method.  Criminologists have broadened the definition of crime  to include conduct that doesn’t violate existing law, as JRank reports. This includes economic exploitation, racial discrimination, and unsafe or unhealthy work environments.

Criminology resources

  • The Internet Journal of Criminology  — Links to government organizations, national and international organizations, academic institutions, and other criminology resources
  • Critical Criminology  — A compilation of resources that examine law, crime, and justice from the perspective of people of color, women, restorative efforts, and community justice
  • S. Department of Justice, National Criminal Intelligence Resource Center  — Links to criminal justice professional associations and groups that assist law enforcement in establishing policies, standards, training, and education

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Criminology Theories: Classical, Positivist, and Chicago School

Research into criminology theories is primarily sociological or psychological.  Sociological theories of criminology  perceive crime as a normal human response to social conditions that are “abnormal and criminogenic,” according to JRank.

Psychological theories of criminology  date back to Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theory. Crime results from a failure to form healthy and loving attachments to parents. Behavioral psychology introduced the concept of rewards and punishments: A rewarded crime is repeated; a punished crime is not.

Three principal approaches to criminology

Today, three criminology theories predominate: the Classical, Positivist, and Chicago schools.

  • The Classical School argues that people freely choose to engage in crime.  Bentham’s utilitarianism theory  states they are driven either by a desire for pleasure or by aversion to pain, as the Oxford University Press states.
  • The Positivist School applies scientific theory to criminology. It focuses on factors that compel people to commit crimes.
  • The Chicago School states that crime results from “ social disorganization ,” which is defined in the Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice as “the inability of a community to realize common values and maintain effective social controls.”

Criminology’s impact on reducing and preventing crimes

Two statistical programs run by the DOJ demonstrate the  impact that criminological studies have had on responding to, reducing, and preventing crimes .

  • The Uniform Crime Reporting program (UCR) collects information from law enforcement agencies across the country on dozens of crimes. It is intended to assist researchers in studying crime among neighboring jurisdictions and those with similar populations or other characteristics.
  • The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) analyzes crime incidents, victims, and trends. It collects data on reported and unreported crimes and provides researchers with demographic data on perpetrators and victims.

Research conducted by the Minnesota House Research Department  studied the effectiveness of the theory of criminal deterrence , which dates back to the 18th century. It reached three conclusions:

  • Deterrence is most effective for preplanned crimes.
  • Making already-long prison sentences even longer does little to deter crime.
  • Increasing the likelihood of getting caught is a more effective crime deterrent than increasing punishment.

Criminology and society’s treatment of criminals and victims

Little attention was paid to the needs of crime victims until the 1970s, when the DOJ’s National Institute of Justice (NIJ) determined that a  primary reason for unsuccessful prosecutions  was the poor treatment of witnesses and victims by the criminal justice system. Since that time, legislation and law enforcement programs, including the Violence Against Women Act of 1990, have worked to protect and assist victims and witnesses.

Similarly, criminology research has affected how criminals are treated in custody. The American Bar Association (ABA) has developed  Standards on Treatment of Prisoners  that describe correctional policies and professional standards that comply with constitutional and statutory law.

Criminology has also highlighted the real cost of crimes on individuals, families, and communities. The 2017 report  “Costs of Crime”  from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that new study methods will improve the accuracy of crime cost estimates, particularly in the area of compensating victims for their pain and suffering.

Criminology theory resources

  • “Predicting Pathways into Criminal Behavior: The Intersection of Race, Gender, Poverty, Psychological Factors”  investigates the factors involved in women’s involvement in criminal activity, including economic disadvantage related to education and employment.
  • The National Institute of Justice discusses mapping in law enforcement in this paper:  “From Crime Mapping to Crime Forecasting: The Evolution of Place-Based Policing” .

Criminology vs. criminal justice: what’s the difference?

The  primary distinction when it comes to criminology vs criminal justice  is the former’s emphasis on the study of crime and the latter’s focus on society’s response to crime, as the Balance Careers explains. Criminal justice applies principles and concepts developed by criminologists to enforcing laws and investigating crimes, as well as to the trial, punishment, and rehabilitation of criminals.

Criminal justice definition

The Legal Dictionary  defines criminal justice  as a set of procedures:

  • Investigating criminal conduct
  • Gathering evidence of the crime
  • Making arrests
  • Bringing charges in court
  • Raising defenses
  • Conducting trials
  • Rendering sentences
  • Carrying out punishments

By contrast, its definition of criminology emphasizes the scientific and academic aspects of the field’s study of crime, criminal behavior, and law enforcement. Criminal justice includes the work of:

  • Criminal courts
  • Prisons and other correctional institutions
  • Juvenile justice systems

Criminal justice and effective law enforcement

In the 20th century, the  field of criminal justice arose  as an effort to improve the effectiveness of law enforcement in light of expanding due process and other rights for criminal defendants, as Encyclopedia Britannica explains. The study of criminal justice expanded in the 1980s and 1990s in the form of qualitative descriptive analyses of the operations of specific criminal justice agencies.

More recent research in criminal justice emphasizes quantitative studies about the effectiveness of particular crime-fighting strategies and approaches. Researchers have studied whether an abusive spouse’s arrest prevents future incidents of abuse, and whether prison rehabilitation programs are effective in reducing recidivism.

One area of criminal justice research proven to be ineffective is the effort to predict which offenders are most likely to commit other crimes. Not only were models unable to identify habitual offenders, but researchers were questioned about whether such efforts violated people’s constitutional rights. The fear is that offenders may be punished not for what they had done but for what they might do in the future.

Such issues are at the forefront of modern discussions about the relationships between civil rights and law enforcement. With numerous  studies indicating a need to address systemic racism  in many corners of the justice system, future criminologists will play an important part in creating a more equitable framework for crime prevention.

Criminology and criminal justice work together to fight crime

Criminal justice and criminology are distinct fields, but they’re closely linked, theoretically and practically. From the viewpoint of potential criminologists and law enforcement professionals, the big difference is criminology’s focus on science and research, and criminal justice’s emphasis on application and administration.

For example, criminologists respond to a rise in homicides by studying underlying economic, sociological, and psychological conditions. By contrast, criminal justice officials respond by working to prevent future homicides and capture the perpetrators.

The two fields merge in  applied criminology , which studies “real-world” problems relating to crime and criminal justice. It applies criminology concepts to actual criminal justice policy and practice. The goal is to make criminology relevant in addressing crime, victimization, and the relationship between “governmental agendas and knowledge production.”

Criminologists promote crime-fighting efforts via tools such as the  New York Police Department’s CompStat system , which is now used by police departments across the country to  combine crime analysis and geographic information system technologies . Their work suggests innovative ways to improve law enforcement and instill trust in the criminal justice system.

Criminology vs. Criminal Justice: Additional Resources

  • Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics
  • International Journal Of Criminal Justice Sciences, List of World Agencies/Organizations in Criminal Justice/Criminology
  • The Balance Careers, “The Difference Between Careers in Criminology and Criminal Justice”

criminology as a social science essay

Typical  employers of criminologists  include law enforcement and other government agencies, university research labs, and other research institutions, as explains. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)  defines criminologists  or penologists as sociologists who specialize in the study of crime. They investigate the social influences of crime on individuals, groups, and organizations.

Career options for criminologists

The Balance Careers  distinguishes criminology positions  as being more academic than those in criminal justice, although there is a great degree of overlap between the two fields. For example, people typically earn a bachelor’s degree in criminology followed by a master’s degree in criminal justice, or vice versa.

Among the daily tasks of criminologists are collecting and examining evidence, visiting crime scenes, attending autopsies, and exploring the psychological aspects of a crime from investigation through conviction and rehabilitation. These tasks require the ability to organize data and evidence, conduct statistical analysis, and write reports.

The range of  positions available to criminologists  include jobs with federal, state, and local law enforcement, as well as public and private research organizations, think tanks, legislative bodies, and public policy bodies, as the Balance Careers reports. Criminologists strive to improve police operations via innovative programs, such as community-oriented policing and predictive policing.

Criminology Positions: Salaries and Employment Outlook

The BLS forecasts that the number of jobs for all sociologists, the category that includes criminologists, will increase by 9% between 2018 and 2028, which is faster than the average growth projected for all occupations. reports that the median annual criminology salary is around $44,000.

These are among the career options available to criminologists.

Forensic Science Technician

Forensic science technicians  assist in criminal investigations . They collect and analyze evidence, including fingerprints, weapons, and body fluids. They photograph and sketch crime scenes, and they catalog and preserve evidence before it is transferred to crime labs. They also work in labs, investigate possible suspects, and consult with experts in forensic medicine.

The BLS reports that the median annual salary of forensic science technicians as of May 2019 was $59,150. The number of jobs is forecast to increase by 14% between 2018 and 2028, which is much faster than the average projected for all occupations.

criminology as a social science essay

Probation and Community Control Officer

According to BLS figures, the  median annual salary for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists  was $54,290 as of May 2019. The number of jobs for the position is forecast to increase by 3% between 2018 and 2028, which is lower than the average projected for all occupations.

Probation and community control officers help former offenders transition to productive lives after incarceration. The Balance Careers lists the  duties of probation and community control officers .

  • Supervise probationers and parolees, including visiting their homes and meeting with their families
  • Collaborate with church groups and community organizations
  • Monitor probationers and parolees electronically
  • Perform pretrial investigations, submit sentencing recommendations, and testify in court
  • Prepare status reports on probationers and parolees, and assist them in job training and job searches

Police Officer

The median annual salary for police officers and detectives as of May 2019 was $65,170, according to the BLS. Jobs for police officers and detectives are expected to increase by 5% between 2018 and 2028, which is equal to the average projected for all occupations.

Police officers are tasked with protecting the lives and property of community residents. The BLS explains the  duties of police officers :

  • Respond to emergency and nonemergency situations
  • Patrol specific areas
  • Issue citations and conduct traffic stops
  • Use computers in the field to search for warrants and vehicle registrations
  • Conduct investigations at crime scenes
  • Collect and secure evidence
  • Prepare cases and testify in court

Corrections Officer

The median annual salary of corrections officers as of May 2019 was $47,830, according to BLS figures. The number of positions for corrections officers is forecast to decline by 7% between 2018 and 2028 as a result of expected reductions in prison populations.

Corrections officers oversee people who have been arrested and are awaiting a hearing or trial, as well as people who have been convicted and sentenced to serve time in jail or prison. The BLS notes the  duties of corrections officers :

  • Maintain order in jails and prisons by enforcing rules
  • Inspect facilities to ensure they meet safety and security standards
  • Supervise inmate activities and search them for contraband
  • Escort and transport inmates, and report on inmate conduct

Loss Prevention Manager reports the median annual salary for loss prevention managers is around $52,000. The most common tasks of loss prevention managers are security risk management, safety compliance, inventory control, theft prevention, and security policies and procedures.

A loss prevention manager’s primary responsibility is to  prevent business losses due to internal or external theft, fraud, accidents, mishandling, or other causes , as explains. Other  duties of loss prevention managers  appear on O*Net Online:

  • Investigate employee theft and other violations of the company’s loss-prevention policies
  • Develop and implement programs to manage inventory, promote safety, and minimize losses
  • Ensure that prevention exception reports and cash discrepancies follow corporate guidelines
  • Train staff and managers on loss prevention strategies and techniques
  • Interview people suspected of shoplifting and other forms of theft

Detective/Criminal Investigator

Also referred to as detectives, criminal investigators are  police officers who gather facts and collect evidence in criminal cases . The BLS notes that criminal investigators often specialize in a single category of crime, such as fraud or homicide. These are the primary duties of criminal investigators:

  • Conduct interviews with crime victims, witnesses, suspects, and relevant experts
  • Examine police and other records
  • Monitor the activities of suspects and participate in raids and arrests
  • Write reports, prepare cases for trial, and testify during court proceedings

The median annual salary for detectives and criminal investigators as of May 2019 was $83,170, according to BLS figures. The number of jobs for police officers and detectives is forecast to increase by 5% between 2018 and 2028, which is equal to the average for all occupations.

criminology as a social science essay

Fish and Game Warden

The BLS reports that the median annual salary for fish and game wardens as of May 2019 was $57,500. The number of jobs for fish and game wardens is expected to increase by 2% between 2018 and 2028, which is below the average projected for all occupations.

Fish and game wardens are  responsible for enforcing laws related to hunting, fishing, and boating , as the BLS describes. These are among their primary duties:

  • Conduct interviews with complainants, witnesses, and suspects
  • Patrol fishing and hunting areas
  • Participate in search and rescue efforts
  • Monitor people suspected of violating regulations relating to fishing and hunting
  • Educate the public about laws governing outdoor activities

Private Investigator

The median annual salary for private detectives and investigators as of May 2019 was $50,510, according to BLS figures. The number of jobs for private investigators is forecast to grow by 8% between 2018 and 2028, which is faster than the average growth projected for all occupations.

The work done by private investigators for businesses and individuals mirrors that done by criminal investigators for public law enforcement agencies. These professionals examine records and conduct other research relating to legal, financial, and personal matters. The BLS lists the  duties of private detectives and investigators :

  • Conduct criminal and other background checks and verify statements made by individuals
  • Interview suspects, witnesses, and experts and perform other research into missing persons
  • Search for evidence in online, public, and court records
  • Perform surveillance and collect other evidence for clients

Insurance Fraud Investigator

The BLS reports that the median annual salary for claims adjusters, examiners, and investigators was $66,790 as of May 2019. The agency expects the number of jobs for the category to decline by 4% between 2018 and 2028 due to automation of claims processing.

The position of insurance fraud investigator is included in the broad category of claims adjusters, appraisers, examiners, and investigators who evaluate insurance claims. These are among the  principle duties of insurance fraud investigators , as listed by the BLS:

  • Examine and research insurance claims to confirm that they are legitimate
  • Conduct interviews with claimants’ doctors, employers, and others to review suspicious claims
  • Work with attorneys and other legal professionals to verify information related to claims
  • Perform surveillance to identify fraudulent claims resulting from staged accidents, arson, unnecessary medical treatments, and other criminal activity

Crime statistics and key insights

An important role played by criminologists is compiling and reporting on crime statistics.  The New Yorker  highlights both the importance of crime statistics in formulating crime-prevention strategies and enforcement policies and the  difficulty criminologists encounter in accurately measuring crime .

The article describes the challenge in determining whether cannabis use increases or reduces crime levels. Various analyses of crime rate trends in states where cannabis has been legalized have come to conflicting conclusions, pointing to the complexity of arriving at a definitive answer about what contributes to criminal activity. Criminologists use a variety of sources and techniques to try to provide statistics that can accurately portray crime trends and inform criminal policies.

How criminologists support law enforcement

Two of the DOJ’s most effective statistical analysis tools for assisting local crime-fighting efforts are the FBI’s UCR system and Bureau of Justice Statistics’ NCVS, both of which are described above. The systems share a shortcoming: Local jurisdictions disagree on what constitutes a crime. Some jurisdictions only report offenses that involve incarceration, while others include fined infractions.

Criminologists have developed a range of statistics-based tools that support federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.

  • The City-Level Survey of Crime Victimization and Citizen Attitudes analyzes surveys conducted by the DOJ’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services to  determine people’s perceptions of community policing and issues in their neighborhoods .
  • Emergency Room Statistics on Intentional Violence surveys a sample of hospital emergency rooms throughout the U.S. to  identify instances of domestic violence, rape, child abuse, and other intentional injuries .
  • The Police-Public Contact Survey interviews a representative sample of people across the country who either reported a crime or were detained in a traffic stop to  gauge their perceptions of the police’s conduct and response during the encounter .

Other organizations involved in the collection, analysis, and dissemination of information about police activities include the Center for Policing Equity’s  COMSTAT for Justice , which is intended to identify bias in policing, and the  U.S. Commission on Civil Rights , whose 2019 report titled  “Police Use of Force: An Examination of Modern Policing Practices”  recommended that  more data on the use of force by police  be made available to law enforcement agencies, and that police be trained in de-escalation techniques, cultural differences, and anti-bias mechanisms.

Criminology’s impact by the numbers

Many of the statistics used and shared by the DOJ and the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention are compiled by the  U.S. Census Bureau .

  • The Annual Survey of Jails reports on the  number of inmates in regional, county, city, and private jails , as well as demographic and criminal justice statistics of the jail population, among other areas related to incarceration.
  • The Census of State and Federal Adult Correctional Facilities gathers information on the  operation of the prisons and jails, and the conditions of confinement , such as capacity and crowding, court orders, staff workloads, and safety and security.
  • The Survey of Sexual Victimization (formerly the Survey of Sexual Violence) collects data on  sexual assaults in correctional facilities , including state prisons, state juvenile correction facilities, federal prisons, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facilities, and the U.S. military.  

Other sources of information on the impact of criminology research in law enforcement include the  Historical Violence Database  maintained by Ohio State University Criminal Justice Research Center, the University of Michigan’s  National Archive of Criminal Justice Data , the  National Criminal Justice Reference Service , and the University at Albany’s  Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics .

8th Criminology and Criminal Justice Conference, 2024

  • Currently 0.0/5

About the Conference The Criminology and Criminal Justice Conference (CCJC) is a creation of the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice at the United States International University-Africa in Nairobi, Kenya. The CCJC’s mission is to provide a forum for academics, practitioners, and students a platform to share research relating to crime prevention, good practice, and strategies for policy and prevention of crime. The CCJC is the only conference in the East African region that is held annually and brings together academics, practitioners, and students across the East African region, Africa, and the World.

To this effect, the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice under the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at USIU-Africa is organizing for the 8th Criminology and Criminal Justice Conference 2024 which will be held at the serene and beautiful campus of the United States International University-Africa on July 25 to 26, 2024, and is therefore inviting submission of papers for the conference.

Call For Papers

This year’s conference theme addresses the United Nations Sustainable Goal #16, which is titled “Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.” Its goal is to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all, and build effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels. Although compassion and a strong moral compass are essential to every democratic society, persecution, injustice, and abuse are still rampant and are tearing down the fabric of civilization.

The subthemes include:

  • Justification of punishment in society.
  • Indigenous justice and punishment.
  • Disability discrimination and the criminal law.
  • Pretrial alternatives.
  • Posttrial alternatives.
  • Punishing juvenile offenders.
  • Probation and diversion programs.
  • International criminal justice and punishment.
  • Psychology and punishment.
  • Gender and Punishment.
  • Human rights and punishment.
  • Alternative justice policies and punishment.

Submit an abstract of not more than 300 words (in a Word file) and 5 keywords to [email protected] before March 30, 2024. Presented papers will be considered for publication in the Africa Journal of Crime and Justice (AJCJ) of the United States International University-Africa following the conference.

Date : July 25-26, 2024 Time : 8.00am - 5.00pm (East Africa Time) Theme : "Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice: Promoting Peaceful and Inclusive Societies for Sustainable Development in Africa” Venue : USIU-Africa, Conference Room, Rooftop, School of Humanities and Social Sciences (SHSS) and Virtual (Zoom)

criminology as a social science essay


  1. Introduction to Criminology Task 2

    criminology as a social science essay

  2. Social Sciences Reflective Essay- Freedom

    criminology as a social science essay

  3. Criminology essay

    criminology as a social science essay

  4. Describe the scope of Criminology as the science dealing with the study

    criminology as a social science essay

  5. Edwin Sutherland Defined Criminology As The Study Of

    criminology as a social science essay

  6. Understanding the Social Sciences (My Experiences of Studying

    criminology as a social science essay


  1. Champlain College Saint-Lambert

  2. 4 2 Criminology Social structure Theory


  1. Criminology as a Social Science

    Belonging to Social Sciences. Criminology cannot be attributed only to legal sciences since it is based on no special legal branch. According to Pridemore et al. (2018), this discipline is a socio-legal theoretical and applied discipline that studies crime as a social phenomenon, the essence and forms of its manifestation, as well as its laws.

  2. Criminology as Social Science

    Criminology is the body of knowledge regarding crime as a social phenomenon. It includes within its scope the processes of making laws, of breaking laws, and of reacting toward the breaking of laws. These processes are three aspects of a somewhat unified sequence of interactions. (p. 1)

  3. Criminology and Social Science

    Criminology is the systematic study of law making, law breaking, and law enforcing. Criminology is a social science emphasizing systematic data collection, theoretical-methodological symmetry, and the accumulation of empirical evidence toward the goal of understanding the nature and extent of crime in society. Rooted in the larger umbrella ...

  4. Full article: Crime and society

    The crucial social and social psychological aspects of crime, which include personal attitudes as well as the broader societal context. The investigation and management of crime. This increasingly includes careful consideration of the forms that crime is taking in contemporary society. The aftermath of crime, both for those who are convicted as ...

  5. Criminology, Social Theory

    The questions that animate this collection of essays concern the challenges that are posed for criminology by the economic, cultural, and political transformations that have marked late twentieth-century social life. The restructuring of social and economic relations, the fluidity of social process, the speed of technological change, and the

  6. Criminology and 'Positive Morality'

    It probably surprised few people that, on this occasion, I chose to address some aspects of the connection between criminology and morality. The main research topics on which I have worked in recent years have been compliance with law, desistance from crime, and the legitimacy of criminal justice institutions; and each of these topics has some clear connections with moral issues. 2 Also, in an ...

  7. Criminology

    Criminology. Chester L. Britt, in Encyclopedia of Social Measurement, 2005 Introduction. Criminology is a wide-ranging interdisciplinary field that encompasses the study of crime and the criminal justice system. Criminological research focuses on issues related to the causes and consequences of crime, delinquency, and victimization, as well as the operation of the criminal justice system, with ...

  8. Crime and Society: An Introduction to Criminology

    Cyber criminology is a field that encompasses the knowledge of criminology, victimology, social science, computer science, etc. It deals with the study of crimes that occur in cyberspace and their impact on the victims. This field is distinct from cyber forensics and explores the impact of cybercrimes from a social science perspective (Anon n.d ...

  9. The Social and Intellectual Context of Criminology

    Introduction. A hallmark of established academic fields is systematic self-reflection and scientific thought about the state of the field and the degree of embeddedness in the intellectual and social contexts on which each depends. Criminology, understood here as the scientific study of criminal behavior and its causes and of the constitution ...

  10. Criminology

    Criminology is an academic discipline devoted to the scientific study of crime and criminal behavior. Although contemporary criminology is multidisciplinary, encompassing a variety of fields such as anthropology, biology, economics, law, political science, psychiatry, and psychology, the sociological approach to criminology is especially ...

  11. PDF Writing in Criminology

    Criminology is a cross-disciplinary field that examines the making of laws, the nature and extent of crime, the causes of crime, and society's effort to control crime through the criminal and juvenile justice systems. Research and theories in criminology draws from the social sciences (e.g., economics, political science, psychology, and ...

  12. How to write a Criminology Essay

    Regardless of the content of the criminology essay, the structure of the essay should always follow the same structure. This structure takes the form of Introduction, Main Body, and Conclusion. The Introduction should set the scene or signpost the reader through the main body of the text. Moreover, the introduction should be written so that it ...

  13. PDF Criminology and Literature

    The argument is not that criminology should be more literary. It's that criminology has always been literary, and literature has always had the capacity to be criminological. The field recognizes literature was a prominent venue for thinking about causes of crime before criminology emerged as a social science

  14. The State of the Field of Criminology: Brief Essay

    Criminology is not a mature science at this point, and we are not certain how to systematically respond to the crime problem. We lack accurate diagnostic instruments, a definitive body of knowledge, and an understanding of cause and effect, and we do not possess a series of generally consistent treatment modalities. ... A short essay. Journal ...

  15. What is Criminology? An Introduction

    American criminology is a powerhouse of ideas, research techniques and interventions which understandably dominate Western thinking about crime' (Young, 1988: 163), it seems these days that the'special relationship' between these two nations may, in criminology, as elsewhere, be shifting.

  16. The Sparking Discipline Of Criminology: John Braithwaite And

    In yet another thought-provoking chapter these two British scholars aim to rethink the character and scope of contemporary social science work on crime, justice and public policy and they suggest, as have a number of others, that the current state of criminology is one of 'successful failure' with criminology student numbers increasing and ...

  17. Critical criminology and the social sciences

    Critical criminology and the social sciences Introduction. Welcome to this free course, Critical criminology and the social sciences.While the names of some of the disciplines in the social sciences are likely to be familiar, you might have less of an idea about their core characteristics and, in particular, the strengths and limitations associated with these disciplines in terms of helping to ...

  18. Criminology

    criminology, scientific study of the nonlegal aspects of crime and delinquency, including its causes, correction, and prevention, from the viewpoints of such diverse disciplines as anthropology, biology, psychology and psychiatry, economics, sociology, and statistics. Viewed from a legal perspective, the term crime refers to individual criminal ...

  19. Introducing criminology

    Abstract. 'Introducing criminology' explains that according to American criminologist, Edwin Sutherland, criminology is the body of knowledge regarding crime as a social phenomenon including within its scope the process of making and breaking laws, and reacting to the breaking of laws. Criminology dates back to the late 18th century when ...

  20. Criminology

    Criminology - Sociology, Theories, Causes: The largest number of criminological theories have been developed through sociological inquiry. These theories have generally asserted that criminal behaviour is a normal response of biologically and psychologically normal individuals to particular kinds of social circumstances. Examples of these approaches include the theory of differential ...

  21. What Is Criminology? The Study of Crime and Criminal Minds

    The roots of criminology trace back to a movement to reform criminal justice and penal systems more than 200 years ago. The first collection and use of crime statistics in the 19th century then laid the groundwork for generations of increasingly sophisticated tools and methods, leading to our modern use of descriptive statistics, case studies, typologies, and predictive analytics.

  22. Social Sciences

    Instead, recognizing the broad audience of a journal like Social Sciences —which speaks across disciplinary and geographic cleavages—our aim in assembling this issue has been, largely, to expose new audiences to a collection of new and compelling papers which are, we feel, representative of the diversity within green criminology.

  23. Explaining Criminals and Crime

    Explaining Criminals and Crime is the first collection of original essays addressing theories of criminal behavior that is written at a level appropriate for undergraduate students. These clear, concise, accessible essays were written expressly for this book, either by the original author(s) of each theory or by a scholar who has written extensively about it.

  24. 8th Criminology and Criminal Justice Conference, 2024

    To this effect, the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice under the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at USIU-Africa is organizing for the 8th Criminology and Criminal Justice Conference 2024 which will be held at the serene and beautiful campus of the United States International University-Africa on July 25 to 26, 2024, and is ...