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Chapter 1

CRM102 -Scott Clark- Chapter 1.docx Crime and Criminology and Introduction 1ST EDITION

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CRM 102
Scott Clark

CRM102: Chapter 1 The Study of Crime Criminology as a Field of Study • Theory informs everything that criminologists do, not every criminologist is a theorist • Vocational or professional approach to criminology, in which the role of criminology is tied to improving the immediate practices of the CJS • This approach seeks to study, analyze, and research alternative theories in order to institute reform of some kind • The other is a strand of criminology, in which the emphasis is on a critical or analytical approach • This approach suggests tat one must stand back from policy decisions and ask bigger questions, such as ‘What if...?’ • Criminology focuses on three main areas: 1. Sociology of law, which examines social aspects and the institutions of law 2. Theories of crime causation, which is sometimes referred to as criminogeneisis 3. Study of social responses to crime, which examine in more depth the formal institutions of criminal justice as the police, courts, and corrections Defining Crime • No straightforward answer, there are constantly changing ideas, perceptions, and conceptions regarding what constitutes criminal behaviour • To an extent, both crime and criminology are uncertain in the sense that ones definition of crime is dependent on one’s particular interests and particular view Legal and Sociological Definitions of Crime • Formal legal says that crime is whatever the state identifies as a crime; whatever that is written into the criminal law with a penalty, then it’s a crime • Social harm says crime involves both criminal offences (assault) and civil offences (negligence), in which each cause harm, each must attract a penalty • Cross-cultural universal norm says crime does not carry across cultural norms, thus, murder is murder regardless of the society • Labeling approach argues that crime only really exists when there has been a social response to a particular activity that labels the activity as criminal • Human rights approach says crime occurs whenever a human right has been violated, regardless of the legality of the action • Human diversity approach defines crime in terms of the manner in which deviance represents a normal response to oppressive or unequal circumstances Historical Construction of Crime • Law itself is thus socially produced and is not static • As law changes, so the definition of crime • Introduction of Bill C-127, which became law on Jan 4 1983, made changes to laws of rape, attempted rape and indecent assault. Laws were replaced with three levels of sexual assault; it removed the gender-bias from the law and improved conditions for victims of sexual assault. Spousal rape was now possible and males could also be sexually assaulted • Time passed, crime went to transgression against the state, not against God Popular Media Images of Crime • According to media, crime tends to be defined primarily as ‘street crime’ • Such crime is associated with personal terror & fear, & violence is seen as central • The media portrays crime as violent and random: no one is safe and everyone is a potential victim (CSI and Law & Order) • Crime control: crime has been brought to the attention of the authorities, investigation will lead to detection and capture of the offender • ‘Crime wave’is a term used to refer to the way in which increased reporting of particular types of crime (assault, rape, or homicide) increases the public awareness of the particular crime • There is not an actual increase in the crime for a crime wave to occur –the increase, or wave, exists only in public perception • Extensive coverage on child abuse may lead to changes in the law and penalties Measuring Crime • Any statement made about crime should be tested by referring to the ‘facts’about crime • Realist approach adopts the view that crime exists ‘out there’in society and that the ‘dark figure’of crime needs to be uncovered and recorded • Institutonalist approach views that crime is a ‘social process’, a
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