What is a crime? What is criminology?
Henry, Stuart and Mark Lanier (2001). “Crime in Context: The Scope of the Problem,” in
What is Crime? Controversies over the nature of crime and what to do about it. Edited
by Mark Lanier and Stuart Henry. Oxford: Rowman and Littlefield, Pp. 1-18.
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.
Outline and Core Concepts
What is criminology?
History of criminology as a ‘science’ of crime and society
1. Social Contract
Crisis of middle ages
Rule of law
Def of positivism
Emergence of criminology; Rafter’s two stages
Barriers to criminological development
Lombroso & The Italian School
Emergence of criminology as a discipline
Rafter’s three core themes 1. Moral insanity
2. Human evolution
3. Crime as a social phenomena
.> centred around topic
But what is a crime?
Definitions of crime
Contemporary debates around legal definition-plus
Lanier and Henry: “The problem of context”
Understanding criminalization / decriminalization
Walklate’s 5 ties that bind
Rafter’s ‘procedural approach’
Next week’s readings.
What is Criminology?
Term criminology comes into disciplinary standing in late 19 century:
.> ‘criminology’ as a discipline for the structured/systematic study of crime and
society in the late 19 century
Rafter’s two conceptual frameworks: the gold-digging and the procedural.
Rafter advocates a “procedural approach” for the ‘science’ of criminology
.> “[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”
Three prominent transformations to western society are the undercurrent to the
development of criminology as a structured discipline:
1) social contract (liberal revolution);
3; scientific revolution (positivism)
1. social contract (liberal revolution);
Liberalism: early process of democratization: initial architecture of the rule of law
theories of individual rights and the Harm principle Harm principle
On Liberty [Book]: John Stuart Mill's
Rationalism and the rule of reason;
“On Crimes and Punishment” (1764)
.> major figure in ‘classical’ school of criminology.
“In order that punishment should not be an act of violence perpertrated 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).
.> prison reformist movement (late 18c)
.> birth of modern prison and a definite form of punishment
.> Mass urbanisation.
.>High rates of crime, deluge of social problems
.>Marxism and social inequity as basis for understanding crime
.>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] “
.>Def of positivism:
“Muncie (2001): “A theoretical 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.”
.>based on the urban too. ‘the threat of the urban crowd’ ‘surplus population’
.> boom of literature about the dangers and menace of the crowd
.> centrality of science, scientific methods.
Rafter’s Barriers to Criminological emergence
.> 1. Language
.> 2. multi-disciplinarily Rafter’s Emergence of criminology; two stages
1. Cottage industry: late 18 to Criminal Man
2. Criminal Man, post-1876 to early 1890s when the term ‘criminology’ was
.> much disagreement, but concensus on the science of crime
Lombroso and The Italian School
.> shift to the NATURE of the criminal; vs rationalism of Beccaria
.> concept of atavism.
.> atavistic individuals were ‘the born criminals’
“Whoever has read this book will have to come to the conclusion that many of the
characteristics found in savages, and among the colored 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 c