CRIMINOLOGY criminology, the study of crime, society's response to it, and its prevention, including examination of the environmental, hereditary, or psychological causes of crime, modes of criminal investigation and conviction, and the efficacy of punishment or correction (see prison) as compared with forms of treatment or rehabilitation. Although it is generally considered a subdivision of sociology, criminology also draws on the findings of psychology, economics, and other disciplines that investigate humans and their environment. In examining the evolution and definition of crime, criminology often aims to remove from this category acts that no longer conflict with society's norms and acts that violate the norms without imperiling society, although decriminalization of certain acts may be accompanied by attempts to enforce codes of morality (as, for example, in the response to pornography). Criminologists are nearly unanimous in advocating that acts involving the consumption of narcotics or alcohol, as well as nonstandard but consensual sexual acts (known among criminologists as crimes without victims) be removed from the category of crime. In dealing with crime in general, the emphasis has gradually shifted from punishment to rehabilitation. Criminologists have worked to increase the use of probation and parole, psychiatric treatment, education in prison, and betterment of social conditions. The Nature and Causes of Crime Many criminologists regard crime as one among several forms of deviance, about which there are conflicting theories. Some consider crime a type of anomic behavior; others characterize it as a more conscious response to social conditions, to stress, to the breakdown in law enforcement or social order, and to the labeling of certain behavior as deviant. Since cultures vary in organization and values, what is considered criminal may also vary, although most societies have restrictive laws or customs. Hereditary physical and psychological traits are today generally ruled out as independent causes of crime, but psychological states are believed to determine an individual's reaction to potent environmental influences. Some criminologists assert that certain offenders are born into environments (such as extreme poverty or discriminated-against minority groups) that tend to generate criminal behavior. Others argue that since only some persons succumb to these influences, additional stimuli must be at work. One widely accepted theory is Edwin Sutherland's concept of differential association, which argues that criminal behavior is learned in small groups. Psychiatry generally considers crime to result from emotional disorders, often stemming from childhood experience. The criminal symbolically enacts a repressed wish, or desire, and crimes such as arson or theft that result from pyromania or kleptomania are specific expressions of personality disorders; therefore, crime prevention and the cure of offenders are matters of treatment rather than coercion. Prevalence of Crime Crime rates, although often blurred by the political or social agenda of those recording and reporting them, tend to fluctuate with social trends, rising in times of depression, after wars, and in other periods of disorganization. Particular types of crime may be prevalent in response to specific conditions. In the United States organized crime became significant during prohibition. Within cities, poverty areas have the highest rates of reported crime, especially among young people (see juvenile delinquency). One major category that was relatively ignored until recent decades is that of white-collar crime, i.e., property crimes committed by people of relatively high social status in the course of their professional or business careers. The President's Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice in 1967 concluded that about three times as much property is stolen by white- collar criminals as by other criminals outside organized crime. As a subdivision of the larger field of sociology, criminology draws on psychology, economics, anthropology, psychiatry, biology, statistics, and other disciplines to explain the causes and prevention of criminal behavior. Subdivisions of criminology include penology, the study of prisons and prison systems; biocriminology, the study of the biological basis of criminal behavior; feminist criminology, the study of women and crime; and criminalistics, the study of crime detection, which is related to the field of forensic science. Criminology has historically played a reforming role in relation to criminal law and the criminal justice system. As an applied discipline, it has produced findings that have influenced legislators, judges, prosecutors, lawyers, probation officers, and prison officials, prompting them to better understand crime and criminals and to develop better and more humane sentences and treatments for criminal behavior. History The origins of criminology are usually located in the late-eighteenth-century writings of those who sought to reform criminal justice and penal systems that they perceived as cruel, inhumane, and arbitrary. These old systems applied the law unequally, were subject to great corruption, and often used torture and the death penalty indiscriminately. The leading theorist of this classical school of criminology, Italian Cesare Bonesano Beccaria (1738-94), argued that the law must apply equally to all and that punishments for specific crimes should be standardized by legislatures, thus avoiding judicial abuses of power. Both Beccaria and another classical theorist, Englishman Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), argued that people are rational beings who exercise free will in making choices. Beccaria and Bentham understood the dominant motive in making choices to be the seeking of pleasure and the avoidance of pain. Thus, they argued that punishment should fit the crime in such a way that the pain involved in potential punishment would be greater than any pleasure in the crime. The writings of these theorists led to greater codification and standardization of European and U.S. laws. Criminologists of the early nineteenth century argued that legal punishments created under the guidance of the classical school did not sufficiently consider the widely varying circumstances of those who found themselves in the gears of the criminal justice system. Accordingly, they proposed that those who could not distinguish right from wrong, particularly children and mentally ill persons, be exempted from the punishments normally meted out to mentally capable adults who had committed the same crimes. Along with the contributions of a later generation of criminologists, the positivists, such writers argued that the punishment should fit the criminal, not the crime. Later in the nineteenth century, the positivist school of criminology brought a scientific approach to criminology, including findings from biology and medicine. The leading figure of this school was the Italian Cesare Lombroso (1836-1909). Influenced by Charles R. Darwin's theory of evolution, Lombroso measured the physical features of prison inmates and concluded that criminal behavior correlated with specific bodily characteristics, particularly cranial, skeletal, and neurological malformations. Essentially, according to Lombroso, biology created a criminal class among the human population. Subsequent generations of criminologists have disagreed harshly with Lombroso's conclusions on this matter. However, Lombroso had a more lasting effect on criminology with other findings that emphasized the multiple causes of crime, including environmental causes that were not biologically determined. He was also a pioneer of the case-study approach to criminology. Other late-nineteenth-century developments in criminology included the work of statisticians of the cartographic school, who analyzed data on population and crime. These included Lambert Adolphe Quetelet, (1796- 1874) of France, and André Michel Guerry, of Belgium. Both of these researchers compiled detailed statistical information related to crime and also attempted to identify the circumstances that predisposed people to commit crime. The writings of French sociologist |AaEmile Durkheim (1858-1917) also exerted a great influence on criminology. Durkheim advanced the hypothesis that criminal behavior is a normal part of all societies. No society, he argued, can ever have complete uniformity of moral consciousness. All societies must permit some deviancy, including criminal deviancy, or they will stagnate. He saw the criminal as an acceptable human being and one of the prices a society pays for freedom. Durkheim also theorized about the ways in which modern, industrial societies differed from nonindustrial ones. Industrial societies are not as effective in producing what Durkheim called a collective conscience that effectively controls the behavior of individuals. Individuals in industrial societies are more likely to exhibit what Durkheim called anomie — a Greek word meaning "without norms." Consequently, modern societies have had to develop specialized laws and criminal justice systems that were not necessary in early societies to control behavior. Sociology and Criminology In the twentieth century, the sociological approach to criminology became the most influential approach. Sociology is the study of social behavior, systems, and structures. In relation to criminology, it may be divided into social- structural and social-process approaches. Social-Structural Criminology Social-struc- tural approaches to criminology examine the way in which social situations and structures influence or relate to criminal behavior. An early example of this approach, the ecological school of criminology, was developed in the 1920s and 1930s at the University of Chicago. It seeks to explain crime's relationship to social and environmental change. For example, it attempts to describe why certain areas of a city will have a tendency to attract crime and also have less vigorous police enforcement. Researchers have found that urban areas in transition from residential to business uses are most often targeted by crime. Such communities often have disorganized social networks that foster a weaker sense of social standards. Another social-structural approach is the conflict school of criminology. It traces its roots to Marxist theories that saw crime as ultimately a product of conflict between different classes under the system of capitalism. Criminology conflict theory suggests that the laws of society emerge out of conflict rather than consensus. Laws are made by the group in power to control those who are not in power. Conflict theorists propose, as do other theorists, that those who commit crimes are not fundamentally different from the rest of the population. They call the idea that society may be clearly divided into criminals and noncriminals a dualistic fallacy, or misguided notion. These theorists maintain instead that the determination of whether someone is a criminal or not often depends on the way society reacts to those who deviate from accepted norms. Many conflict theorists and other theorists argue that members of minorities and poor people are more quickly labeled as criminals than are members of the majority and wealthy individuals. Critical criminology, also called radical criminology, shares with conflict criminology a debt to Marxism. It came into prominence in the early 1970s and attempted to explain contemporary social upheavals. Critical criminology relies on economic explanations of behavior and argues that economic and social inequalities cause criminal behavior. It focuses less on the study of individual criminals and advances the belief that existing crime cannot be eliminated within the capitalist system. It also asserts, like the conflict school, that law has an inherent bias in favor of the upper or ruling class, and that the state and its legal system exist to advance the interests of the ruling class. Critical criminologists state that corporate, political, and environmental crime are underreported and inadequately dealt with in the current criminal justice system. Feminist criminology emphasizes the subordinate position of women in society. According to this theory, women remain in a position of inferiority that has not been fully rectified by changes in the law during the late twentieth century. Feminist criminology also explores the ways in which women's criminal behavior is related to their objectification as commodities in the sex industry. Others using the social-structural approach have studied gangs, juvenile delinquency, and the relationship between family structure and criminal behavior. Social-Process Criminology Social-process criminology theories attempt to explain how people become criminals. These theories developed through recognition of the fact that not all people exposed to the same social-structural conditions become criminals. They focus on criminal behavior as learned behavior. Edwin H. Sutherland (1883-1950), a U.S. sociologist and criminologist who first presented his ideas in the 1920s and 1930s, advanced the theory of differential association to explain criminal behavior. He emphasized that criminal behavior is learned in interaction with others, usually in small groups, and that criminals learn to favor criminal over noncriminal behavior through association with both forms of behavior in different degrees. As Sutherland wrote, "When persons become criminal, they do so because of contacts with criminal patterns and also because of isolation from anticriminal patterns." Although his theory has been greatly influential, Sutherland himself admitted that it did not satisfactorily explain all criminal behavior. Later theorists have modified his approach in an attempt to correct its shortcomings. Control theory, developed in the 1960s and 1970s, attempts to explain how to train people to engage in law-abiding behavior. Although there are different approaches within control theory, those approaches share the view that humans require nurturing in order to develop attachments or bonds to people and that personal bonds are key in producing internal controls such as conscience and guilt and external controls such as shame. According to this view, crime is the result of insufficient attachment and commitment to others. Walter C. Reckless developed one version of control theory called containment. He argued that a combination of internal psychological containments and external social containments prevents people from deviating from social norms. In simple communities, social pressure to conform to community standards, usually enforced by social ostracism, was sufficient to control behavior. As societies became more complex, internal containments played a more crucial role in determining whether people behaved according to public laws. Furthermore, containment theorists have found that internal containments require a positive self-image. All too often, a sense of alienation from society and its norms forms in modern individuals, and as a result they do not develop internal containment mechanisms. The sociologist Travis Hirschi has developed his own control theory that attempts to explain conforming, or lawful, rather than deviant, or unlawful, behavior. He stresses the importance of the individual's bond to society in determining conforming behavior. His research has found that socioeconomic class has little to do with determining delinquent behavior, and that young people who are not very attached to their parents and to school are more likely to be delinquent than those who are strongly attached. He also found that youths with a strongly positive view of their own accomplishments are more likely to view society's laws as valid constraints on their behavior. Other Issues Criminologists also study a host of other issues related to crime and the law. These include the victims of crime, their relations to the criminal, and their role as potential causal agents in crime; juvenile delinquency and its correction; and the media and their relation to crime, including the influence of pornography. Also, much research related to criminology has focused on the biological basis of criminal behavior. In fact, a field of study has emerged called biocriminology, which attempts to explore the biological basis of criminal behavior. Research in this area has focused on chromosomal abnormalities, hormonal and brain chemical imbalances, diet, neurological conditions, drugs, and alcohol as variables that contribute to criminal behavior. Like medicine, criminology is an amalgam of disciplines. In popular usage it even includes scientific methods of identifying criminals, although nowadays this is distinguished as 'forensic science' or — less elegantly — 'criminalistics'. In stricter modern practice criminology comprises four kinds of study: descriptive, explanatory, penological, and nomological.Descriptive studies are concerned with the frequencies of the various sorts of lawbreaking; the situations in which they are most likely to occur; the kinds of people who are most likely to commit them; and the extent of the harm done. In the past such studies have relied chiefly or entirely on official statistics and police files. More recently, 'self-report' studies, in which samples (usually of teenagers) have told interviewers about their behaviour, have provided less superficial data, as have 'victim surveys'. These studies and surveys have yielded more valid estimates of the real incidence of violence, thefts, robberies, burglaries, and sexual crimes (but not yet of serious traffic offences, or of rare crimes such as homicide). They have shown that victims are selective in what they report to the police; that police are selective in what they regard as worth recording; and that fluctuations in recorded crimes can result from, or be greatly exaggerated by, changes in people's willingness to report them, as well as from variations in the interest which the police take in them.Explanatory studies need to be subdivided into those that seek to offer explanations of particular breaches of law and those that try to account for especially high (or low) frequencies of lawbreaking (or, better, of certain kinds of lawbreaking), whether in different countries, in different social groups, or during different periods in their histories. Explanations of particular breaches usually attach importance to the disposition of the individual lawbreaker, whether this is attributed to upbringing, to the influence of associates, or — less commonly nowadays — to genetic or perinatal misfortunes. Explanations of differing frequencies emphasize economic conditions, subcultural values that are in conflict with law, or inequalities of opportunity for legitimate acquisition or enjoyment. 'Histories' may figure in both kinds of explanation, whether they take the form of narratives about individuals or trace the origins of, say, violence in a country's past. Most explainers are highly selective, either because they are searching for some factor that can be manipulated so as to reduce the frequency of lawbreaking, or because they want ammunition to support political or moral attacks on the current state of their society. What should not be overlooked, however, is the relevance of explanations when courts are trying to assess the culpability of an individual offender.Penological research is concerned mainly with the effects of what is officially done to identified offenders, although it has also taken an interest in the social consequences of being labelled as an offender of one kind or another. Until recently most penologists concentrated on assessing the extent to which desired effects were achieved: reform, deterrence, rehabilitation, incapacitation. There have always been critics, however, who emphasized the unwanted side effects of sentences, and when it became clear that the wanted effects were confined to a small minority of offenders (who could seldom be identified in advance) the importance of unwanted effects began to be appreciated. These too, however, have been exaggerated, and it is only in the last decade that attempts have been made to define and measure the sorts of damage that incarceration (for example) inflicts, and determine whether it is transient or lasting.Nomological studies. What can be called 'nomological' studies — for want of a better term — concentrate on law enforcement itself. Some offer answers to the question 'What kinds of conduct should be prohibited by the (criminal) law?' The kinds most frequently discussed are consensual sexual deviations, contraception and abortion, euthanasia, drug abuse, and obscene entertainment. Others are concerned with compulsory benevolence such as requirements to wear seat belts in motor vehicles. Nomological work is also undertaken into the ways in which the criminal law as it stands is administered. Since police have to be selective — both because of limitations on resources and for the sake of good relations with the public — their selectivity has been subjected to very critical scrutiny in Britain and the USA, though much less in 'police states' for obvious reasons. Public prosecutors, who exercise considerable discretion in bringing people to court and in framing the charges against them, are also a subject of study. Another favourite subject is the criminal courts: chiefly summary courts and appeal courts. Where higher courts are concerned, it has been the jury which has been the focus of the spotlight. The behaviour of prison staff and administrators has also received much attention. Less attention has been paid to the behaviour of probation officers, hostel wardens, and other social workers, chiefly because their roles are seen as less coercive. Furthermore, penologists have interested themselves in 'theories of punishment': more precisely in the differing aims which are held to justify penalizing offenders. Until fairly recently this was regarded as a subject for moral philosophers, but penologists have been able to show that some philosophers' assumptions about the practicability of achieving their aims have been unrealistic. Criminology (from Latin crīmen, "accusation"; and Greek -λογία, -logia) is the scientific study of the nature, extent, causes, and control of criminal behavior in both the individual and in society. Criminology is an interdisciplinary field in the behavioral sciences, drawing especially upon the research of sociologists (particularly in the sociology of deviance), social anthropologists and psychologists, as well as on writings in law.
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