Lecture 1 Criminology CRCJ 1000-C
WHAT ISACRIME? WHAT IS CRIMINOLOGY? CRIMINOLOGICAL EMERGENCE
Crime as an object of study; Criminalization processes; Origins of criminology; Definitions of
I. Course Reader, Pp. 7-24.
II. Rafter, Nicole (2011). “Origins of Criminology” in What is criminology? Edited by Mary Bosworth and
Carolyn Holye. Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, Pp 143-154.
MIDTERM QUESTION: What is contemporary criminology? What do criminologists do? Best Definition:
Scientific study of crime and society.
1. Criminological emergence 11. Boyd and the work of criminology (4 themes)
2. Pre-criminological social forces 12. 6 frameworks of crime:
3. Social contract (liberal revolution) a) Classical theories of crime
4. Beccaria and classical theories b) Positivists
5. Industrialization c) Marxism
6. Marxist theories of crime d) Functionalism (Durkheim)
7. Scientific revolution and positivism e) Legal
8. Rafter’s barriers to criminology f) Critical
9. Emergence of criminology; Rafter’s two stages 13. Criminalization
10. Lombroso and The Italian School 14. What is criminology?
WHAT IS CRIMINOLOGY?:
KEY THEMES that define criminological studies:
• The systematic/structured study of crime and society
• Criminologists believe that there is no such thing as a born criminal. Crime is created in reaction to the social; ex.
deviance, non-conformity, lack of understanding, and other social forces.
• Muti-disciplinary and empirically-driven (research-based)
• Issues of ‘crime’and ‘deviance’are difficult to define and measure (they are evolving since notions of deviance
change). They are contested (disputed), as well.
• Focused on the three Cs of criminology: Cops, Courts, Correction.
• The ‘task of criminology’
- There is no one solution to crime.
- Understanding crime requires more than the “gold-digging” approach — the idea that studying crime/statistics
will give the answer to crime for a definitive universal solution to crime.
Criminology requires a “procedural approach” — conceives of criminology as more of an ongoing effort (river
analogy in text/below).
- Neil Boyd says we need to cut through the common sense/empirical material.
- Empirical: That which is understood or verified through experiment, measurement, or direct observation; as
opposed to theoretical . Lecture 1 Criminology CRCJ 1000-C
MIDTERM OR FINAL QUESTION: True or False - In Canada we have, for the last 25 years, a declining rate of
crime, overall crime, and violent crime. TRUE
• Young males (ages 17-25) are most crime-prone
• We are more safe than we have been since the 1990s
Rafter:Aprocedural approach to criminology
• Term criminology comes into disciplinary standing in late 19th century:
- ‘Criminology’as a discipline for the structured/systematic study of crime and society in the late 19th century
- Discipline: relatively distinct area of study.
Rafter’s two conceptual frameworks: the gold-digging and the procedural.
• - Gold-digging model of science — search for a definitive cause of crime.
Rafter advocates a “procedural approach” for the ‘science’of criminology — research based, but also think
- “[An approach] that conceives of criminology more like a river, an ongoing effort flowing through time, hitting
rocks, absorbing current, from other fields, picking up new methods or concepts as it travels. eddying back to
reconsider earlier findings, sometimes allowing work — even good work — to wash up on the rivers banks.”
Rafter’s Barriers to Criminology
• Why isn’t criminology thriving? Functional barriers (not just geographical distance) — Two communicative barriers,
unique to criminology, in addition to geography (other disciplines had overcome geography):
1. Language barriers Lecture 1 Criminology CRCJ 1000-C
- ex. Richard Dugdale, New York city businessman. Studied heredity and crime. He did not know about
French Degeneration theory (most important criminological concept in Europe in mid- and late- 19th
century). He reinvented the theory in ‘The Jukes.’
- On the other hand, Kraft-Ebbing, German psychiatrist, could read multiple languages. Kraft-Ebbing
studied sexual deviations (Psychopathia Sexualis). The fact that he was multi-lingual made his work
more comprehensive because he could understand work done by others in the past.
2. Multi-disciplinary (anthropology, statistics, sociology, philosophy, science) — criminology not yet
conceptualized as an independent field of study. Discussions about crime always stayed in these disciplines
but did not occur in the discipline of ‘criminology’(lots of people talking about crime, but not to each other).
• Three prominent transformations to western society are the undercurrent to the development of criminology as a
1) Social contract (liberal revolution) — advent (arrival) of rule of law
2) Urbanization/industrialization (especially in 19th century)
3) Scientific revolution (positivism)
1) SOCIAL CONTRACT (LIBERAL REVOLUTION):
• Social Contract
• Liberalism: early process of democratization
Initial architecture of the rule of law:
We do not commit crime against each other (or against the sovereign; ex. Trudeau), but against the state/legal
• Theories of individual rights
• Harm principle
- John Stuart Mill articulated this principle in On Liberty, where he argued that, "The only purpose for which
power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm
- Influential political principle of the 19th century
- Underlines harm — need to figure out what is ‘harmful’and what is not; the state needs to back out of what is
not harmful to others and get involved in what is harmful.
• Rationalism and the rule of reason
- Rationality — individuals are rational; they make their own decisions / have their own opinions of right and
wrong. The state needs to recognize this.
• Criminalization: To define an act as a crime, and thereby subject that act to formal punishment.
Cesare Beccaria (1738 - 1794)
“On Crimes and Punishment” (1764) — Pivotal text
• Rationalism and the rule of reason
• Major figure in “classical” school of criminology
- However, in his lifetime, he was chased out of Italy by Pope.
• “In order that punishment should not be an act of violence perpetrated by one or many upon a private citizen, it is
essential that it should be public, speedy, necessary, the minimum possible in the given circumstances,
proportionate to crime, and determined by the law” (Beccaria, 1764:113).
- He thought prisons cannot bring back MiddleAges forms of punishment. This form of punishment is not
modern (it is pre-modern). Prison sentences have to be humane (cannot outweigh the crime) and the sentence
has to be public. The notion of a vengeful sovereign just creates more crime.
- People commit crime when they think that the pros outweigh the cons.
• Prison reformist movement (late 18th century)
• Birth of modern prison as a definite form of punishment
- First modern prison in Canada built in 1830s
- Modern prison is based on publicly stated sentences Lecture 1 Criminology CRCJ 1000-C
- The deprivation of liberty becomes the punishment
- Prison becomes a place where people become fixed/reformed vs punished
• Mass urbanization.
• High rates of crime & deluge of social problems.
- Rafter — Crime was a symptom of social injustice (means of production, etc.) that produced crime
• Marxism and social inequity as basis for understanding crime.
• Conflict theory vs consensus theory.
- Conflict theory: all sorts of societies are in conflict, but the state represents a dominant interest/power (morals,
norms, power). Conflict theory emerges from marxism.
- Consensus theory: Society is a container — form of social integration that comes together competing for
dominant social morals.
Engels’Condition of the Working Class in Britain (1845):
• Engels: The working class, “with no means of making fitting use of its freedom” turns to drink and sex which are
carried to excess . This excess is related to poverty and insecurity: what is the point in deferred gratification
and ‘respectability’when there is no security in life [4:424].”
3) PRE-CRIMINOLOGICAL FORCES: POSITIVISM
• Centrality of science, scientific methods.
• Muncie (2001): “Atheoretical approach that emerged in the early nineteenth century which argues that social
relations and events (including crime) can be studied scientifically using methods derived from the natural
sciences. Its aim is to search for, explain and predict future patterns of social behaviours.”
Rafter’s Emergence of criminology — Two stages:
1) Cottage industry: late 18th to Criminal Man
- Crystallizes around Italian school
2) Criminal Man, post-1876 to early 1890s when the term ’criminology’was typified
Cesare Lombroso (1835-1909)
• Father of modern criminology; Italian.
• The ‘Italian school”
- Italian school becomes international school of study for criminal man
- Criminology becomes a term
• Shift to the NATURE of the criminal; vs rationalism of Beccaria.
- Lombroso had biological theories; he thought insanity was organic (physiological).
- Red-heads have a fierce personality.
- Twitching eye and left-handedness are more relevant to criminals.
- Less “white traits” were more relevant to criminals. Created a scientific racism — popular belief at the time,
especially with the elites.
- Traits: Those attributes or features that distinguish or characterize an individual.
- Seems extreme, but just like people bought into Darwin Theory of Evolution in The Origins of Species (1859) at
the time, people bought into Lombroso.
- Theory of degeneration — some people evolve while others devolve or go backward toward a condition of
lesser complexity and savagery.
• Concept of atavism:
- According the theory of “recapitulation,” an individuals ontogeny (the development of each individual belonging
to a species) would in fact ‘recapitulate’phylogeny (the development of the species).
- According to Lombroso, there would be individuals whose development would not progress beyond previous
stages of human development. They would be throwback to earlier, atavistic stages of human development.
Their primordial nature would then push them in the direction of crime.
• Atavistic individuals were ‘the born criminals.’ Lecture 1 Criminology CRCJ 1000-C
- Criminals/atavistic individuals can be identified (with the theory of evolution), because they have not properly
evolved; a missing link of evolution exists.
- Worst criminals are the born criminals
Excerpt from Criminal Man (1876): “Whoever has read this book will have to come to the conclusion that many of
• the characteristics found in savages, and among the coloured races, are also very often to be found in habitual
criminals. They are: thinning hair, lack of strength and weight, low cranial capacity, receding foreheads, highly
developed frontal sinuses, a high frequency of media-frontal sutures… darker skin, thicker, curly hair, large or
handle-shaped ears, a greater analogy between the two sexes, a lesser corrigibility in women, a lesser sensitivity
to pain, a complete lack of moral awareness, sloth, the lack of any remorse,improvidence that appears at times as
courage, and courage mixed with cowardice, a great vanity, a passion for gambling, alcohol, and their surrogates,
fleeting but violent passions, for facile superstition, an exaggerated susceptibility as to one’s ego, and even a
relative concept of divinity and morality. “ (Lombroso 1876 L’uomo delinquente).
• L’uomo delinquente — arguably the most significant single text in 19th century criminology.
Legacy of Italian school
• Troubled legacy — cannot be separated from systematic racism, advocacy of colonialism/imperialism, and (later)
associations with Italian fascism.
• But still influential. Focus on the body, criminal typologies, and identifiers. But a major shift from causal claims to
correctional claims (Boyd)
- In the early 20th century, physiological theories were less popular. Criminals were believed to be a composite
of their society.
- However, Lombroso had introduced scientific study (though discredited) of crime and made it recognized .
Now, we focus more on neurological factors, alcohol (risks and probabilities), etc.
Three forces/influences on the emergence of criminology are still prominent frameworks for defining crime:
1) Classical and neo-classical
2) Marxism and neo-marxism
3) Positivism and bio-criminal
TAKEAWAYS FROM BOYD: INTRODUCTION TO CRIMINOLOGY:
1) Crime stats and governance (discussed another lecture)
2) The history of law and deviance: what is deviance?
3) Approaches to criminology: Theories and methods