Sociology 225: chapter 1 Crimes, criminals and Criminology.
What is criminology?
Criminology is the body of knowledge regarding crime as a social phenomenon. It
includes the processes of: Making laws, Breaking laws and the society reacting to the
breaking of laws. The main objective of criminology is the development of a body of
general and verified principles regarding these processes (like theories). Thus this
definition implies that criminologist take a scientific approach to the study of crime.
Why should we study crime?
It is intrinsically worthwhile to understand criminality to learn about all aspect of our
social lives including the criminal behavior and society’s response to this behavior.Also
learning about crime tells us great deal about our society. We need to understand it to
prevent it and it Crime affects us all
Crime and media:
Most people learn about crime through the media and the media portrayal of crime is not
accurate. Crime in the media is much more violent (even though only 7% of crimes are
actually violent), it distort the realities of the justice system (like in south park where you
have a lot of crimes within minutes) and also through modeling the media may contribute
to crime. This distorted images lead to few problem: First: we overestimate the amount
of violent crime and have a fear of crime that is higher then the actual victimization.
Crimes are often committed by our acquaintance rather then strangers that many of us
fear. Our fear has an impact on the policies of our government. If the public thinks it is
not safe actual crime is irrelevant and we need to make policy changes then.Also, it can
lead to crimes as well as children exposed to violence are more likely to commit crimes.
The discipline of criminology:
1. The definition of crime and criminals ( what kind of things are crimes? Who
should be considered criminal for criminology research like those that are not
2. The origins and role of law ( why are some things considered criminal by the
society while others are ok)
3. The social distribution of crime (characteristics, trends, and the differences btw
different regions can help us find the causes of crime)
4. The causation of crime ( why people do it)
5. Patterns of criminal behavior (who are the victims and the offenders, what social
conditions lead to offender committing this crime, consequences for victim, and
how to prevent them)
6. Societal reactions to crime ( the provincial and territories cannot pass or amend a
law but is responsible for administration. There is a division of power. Supreme
court is at the top of hierarchy. Sentence less then two dealt by the provincial, but
more then 2 years is dealt by the federal government)
Rules and law: the regulation of behaviors
Norm: established rules of behavior or standard of conduct. We tend to follow societal
rules without even realizing them such as how to walk, how to be polite and so on. We
follow these rules because they are part of belonging to the group ( don’t follow you
family may disapprove of you or your friends etc.). It enhances our sense of belonging.
What is a crime? Sociology 225: chapter 1 Crimes, criminals and Criminology.
Acrime is an act that violates the criminal law and is punishable with jail terms, fines,
and other sanctions. But there are issues with this definition in that it focuses only on
violations of criminal law presented a misleading picture of crime. Limiting
criminological research to offence such as burglary, assaults and theft that were dealt with
in the criminal courts and lead to conclusion that crime was primarily a lower classes
phenomenon. In term of if white color crimes are actually crime. However, many white
color crimes are done by middle and upper class in the course of their business activities
but these are not dealt with by the criminal court. Thus lower class get most of the
punishment while the upper class does not or if they does it is by board or commission
who give them only warning and such.. Thus it is important that we encompass the
violation of other types of laws.
Human right violation as crime
If an action violated the basic rights of a human ( life, liberty, security, free of torture,
equality before law, respect, dignity, and given basic necessities of life) criminologist
should consider it a crime ( sexism, racism, imperialism or any other government policies
included). They advocate of this approach thing the men in power have created that
criminal law so that acts committed by the powerful are not criminalized.
The green criminologist also takes this view. Criminologist should also study people who
destroy the environment and do harm to individuals as a result like factories in china
where environmental policies are very lax, practices such as these.
Acontinuum of crime and deviance
Hagan proposed that we need law that considers both