Criminology  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Criminology is the scientific study of crime as an individual and social phenomenon. Criminological research areas include the incidence and forms of crime as well as its causes and consequences. They also include social and governmental regulations and reactions to crime. Criminology is an interdisciplinary field in the behavioural sciences, drawing especially on the research of sociologists and psychologists, as well as on writings in law. In 1885, Italian law professor Raffaele Garofalo coined the term "criminology" (in Italian, criminologia). The French anthropologist Paul Topinard used it for the first time in French (criminologie) around the same time.

Contents

Schools of thought

In the mid-18th century, criminology arose as social philosophers gave thought to crime and concepts of law. Over time, several schools of thought have developed. There are three main schools of thought in early criminological theory spanning the period from the mid-18th century to the mid-twentieth century , which are Classical, Positive, and Chicago. These schools of thought were superseded by several contemporary paradigms of criminology, such as the sub-culture, control, strain, labelling, critical criminology, cultural criminology, postmodern criminology, feminist criminology and others discussed below.

Classical School

The Classical School, which developed in the mid 18th century, was based on utilitarian philosophy. Cesare Beccaria, author of On Crimes and Punishments (1763–64), Jeremy Bentham, inventor of the panopticon, and other classical school philosophers argued that (1) people have free will to choose how to act. (2) Deterrence is based upon the notion of the human being as a 'hedonist' who seeks pleasure and avoids pain, and a 'rational calculator' weighing up the costs and benefits of the consequences of each action. Thus, it ignores the possibility of irrationality and unconscious drives as motivational factors (3) Punishment (of sufficient severity) can deter people from crime, as the costs (penalties) outweigh benefits, and that severity of punishment should be proportionate to the crime (4). The more swift and certain the punishment, the more effective it is in deterring criminal behavior. The Classical school of thought came about at a time when major reform in penology occurred, with prisons developed as a form of punishment. Also, this time period saw many legal reforms, the French Revolution, and the development of the legal system in the United States.

Positivist School

The Positivist school presumes that criminal behavior is caused by internal and external factors outside of the individual's control. The scientific method was introduced and applied to study human behavior. Positivism can be broken up into three segments which include biological, psychological and social positivism.

Italian School

Cesare Lombroso, an Italian prison doctor working in the late 19th century and sometimes regarded as the "father" of criminology, was one of the largest contributors to biological positivism and founder of the Italian school of criminology. Lombroso took a scientific approach, insisting on empirical evidence, for studying crime. Considered as the founder of criminal anthropology, he suggested that physiological traits such as the measurements of one's cheek bones or hairline, or a cleft palate, considered to be throwbacks to Neanderthal man, were indicative of "atavistic" criminal tendencies. This approach, influenced by the earlier theory of phrenology and by Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution, has been superseded. Enrico Ferri, a student of Lombroso, believed that social as well as biological factors played a role, and held the view that criminals should not be held responsible when factors causing their criminality were beyond their control. Criminologists have since rejected Lombroso's biological theories, with control groups not used in his studies.

Lacassagne School

Lombroso's Italian school was rivaled, in France, by Alexandre Lacassagne and his school of thought, based in Lyon and influential from 1885 to 1914. The Lacassagne School rejected Lombroso's theory of "criminal type" and of "born criminals", and strained the importance of social factors. However, contrary to criminological tendencies influenced by Durkheim's social determinism, it did not reject biological factors. Indeed, Lacassagne created an original synthesis of both tendencies, influenced by positivism, phrenology and hygienism, which alleged a direct influence of the social environment on the brain and compared the social itself to a brain, upholding an organicist position. Furthermore, Lacassagne criticized the lack of efficiency of prison, insisted on social responsibilities toward crime and on political voluntarism as a solution to crime, and thus advocated harsh penalties for those criminals thought to be unredeemable ("recidivists") for example by supporting the 1895 law on penal colonies or opposing the abolition of the death penalty in 1906.

Hans Eysenck (1964, 1977), a British psychologist, claimed that psychological factors such as extraversion and neuroticism made a person more likely to commit criminal acts. He also includes a psychoticism dimension that includes traits similar to the psychopathic profile, developed by Hervey M. Cleckley and later Robert Hare. He also based his model on early parental socialization of the child; his approach bridges the gap between biological explanations and environmental or social learning based approaches, (see e.g. social psychologists B.F. Skinner (1938), Albert Bandura (1973), and the topic of "nature vs. nurture".)

Sociological positivism

Sociological positivism postulates that societal factors such as poverty, membership of subcultures, or low levels of education can predispose people to crime. Adolphe Quetelet made use of data and statistical analysis to gain insight into relationship between crime and sociological factors. He found that age, gender, poverty, education, and alcohol consumption were important factors related to crime. Rawson W. Rawson utilized crime statistics to suggest a link between population density and crime rates, with crowded cities creating an environment conducive for crime. Joseph Fletcher and John Glyde also presented papers to the Statistical Society of London on their studies of crime and its distribution. Henry Mayhew used empirical methods and an ethnographic approach to address social questions and poverty, and presented his studies in London Labour and the London Poor. Émile Durkheim viewed crime as an inevitable aspect of society, with uneven distribution of wealth and other differences among people.

Chicago School

The Chicago school arose in the early twentieth century, through the work of Robert E. Park, Ernest Burgess, and other urban sociologists at the University of Chicago. In the 1920s, Park and Burgess identified five concentric zones that often exist as cities grow, including the "zone in transition" which was identified as most volatile and subject to disorder. In the 1940s, Henry McKay and Clifford R. Shaw focused on juvenile delinquents, finding that they were concentrated in the zone of transition.

Chicago School sociologists adopted a social ecology approach to studying cities, and postulated that urban neighborhoods with high levels of poverty often experience breakdown in the social structure and institutions such as family and schools. This results in social disorganization, which reduces the ability of these institutions to control behavior and creates an environment ripe for deviant behavior.

Other researchers suggested an added social-psychological link. Edwin Sutherland suggested that people learn criminal behavior from older, more experienced criminals that they may associate with.

Subtopics

Areas of study in criminology include:

See also




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