Criminology - The Basics (Walklate Readings)

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Western University
Classical Studies
Classical Studies 2301A/B
Randall Pogorzelski

CRIMINOLOGY: THE BASICS – SANDRA WALKLATE: CHAPTERS 1, 4 & 5 Chapter 1: What is Criminology? What is Crime? • What counts as crime and what criminologists study is neither consistent nor uniform, varies from country to country and over time • Different understandings of what crime is: o Legal – crime is that behavior prohibited by the criminal code o Moral – crime is that behavior that offends the ‘collective conscience’and provokes punishment (usually, though not always, enshrined in the criminal law) o Social – crime is that behavior that violates social norms (including violation of the criminal law) o Humanistic – crime is that behavior of individuals, institutions or states that denies basic human rights (some of which is enshrined in human rights legislation and not necessarily criminal) o Social constructionist – crime is that behavior so defined as criminal by the agents and activities of the powerful (reflected in what is and what is not defined as criminal and what is and what is not acted upon within the legal code more generally) • These definitions illustrate different understandings of what Henry, a NorthAmerican criminologist, has called the determining elements of crime: 1. Harm (nature, severity, extent of the act committed, and/or the kind of victim the act has been committed against) 2. Social agreement or consensus (the extent to which there is social agreement that the victim has been harmed) 3. Official societal response (whether or not there is a law that specifies the act committed as a crime or not and how those laws are enforced) • Evidently, defining what crime is quite complex – multidisciplinary area of concern • Walkate defines key features of criminology as a discipline that is: o Held together by one substantive concern: crime o It is a multidisciplinary so important to understand the conceptual apparatus with which a particular criminologist might be working o Criminologists disagree with each other especially over how to ‘solve’the crime problem they are nevertheless concerned to offer some advice on policy o What criminologists do sometimes resonates with common sense thinking about crime but often challenges that thinking o All of these features of criminology need to be situated within societies increasingly pre-occupied with crime, risk and insecurity • Central feature of much criminological work: role of positivism o Positivism – theoretical approach that emerged in the early 19 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 behavior. In criminology it straddles biological, psychological and sociological disciplines in an attempt to identify key causes of crime-whether genetic, psychological, social, or economic – which are thought to lie largely outside of the individual’s control (Muncie) The Emergence of Criminology as a Discipline: The Italian Job • Three central characteristics of early criminology: o Differentiation – desire to measure the differences between individuals and their behavior o Pathology – process of assigning abnormality to those differences o Determinism – concern to understand how factors beyond the control of human beings, effect their behavior • One of the most famous and influential criminologists of the nineteenth century, Italian prison psychiatrist, Cesare Lombroso o Made systemic observations of prisoners – noted that criminals shared number of common physical attributes such as sloping foreheads, receding chins, excessively long arms, etc. o Constructed four criminal types on the basis of these observations: the insane, the opportunist, the passionate and the born criminal o Lombroso borrowed Darwin’s ideas and applied them to his observation in order to offer a general explanation of criminal behavior  Law of bio-genetics – states that very organism re-visits the development of its own species within its own developmental history  However not all organisms reach the state predicted by their biological origin; sometimes there are abnormalities. Darwin referred to this as a state of atavism: a throwback to an earlier stage of development o Criminals were criminals because they were throwbacks to earlier biological forms that manifested themselves in physical or mental attributes and resulted in criminal behavior o These criminals may be different (differentiation), may be abnormal (pathology) but they were subject to forces outside of their control (in this case determined by their biology) and therefore imprisonment might be a more appropriate punishment than execution, for example. • NorthAmerican Wilson and Herrstein – Crime and Human Nature, published in 1985 o Argued that there were three factors that contributed to criminality: an individual’s constitution (i.e. their biological make up), social and psychological reinforcers they were or were not exposed to (reflecting a particular understanding of the process of socialisation) and their conscience (how guilty they felt or did not feel in relation to their behavior). o Work of Wilson and Herrstein provided the intellectual support for the rise in the use of imprisonment as a punishment in the United States from the late 1980s onwards • Biological positivism reflects a deeply rooted assumption that the criminal is always male The Development of Criminology as a Discipline: TheAmerican Story th • Sociological positivism – origins based in NorthAmerica at the turn of the 20 century • Sociologists at the University of Chicago, influenced by the work of Comte and Durkheim, another French social theorist, were concerned to understand the patterning and impact of that social change and also to develop policies to manage the worst effects of it. • Park and Burgess, two sociologists, developed a social ecological model of the growth and development of Chicago. This model became known as the concentric zone theory of the city. These theorists argued that just as it was possible to identify patterns in the processes of adaptation made to the environment by animals, so it was possible to identify patterns in relation to the growth and development of the city. In this way they identified a series of circles radiating from the city center with each circular zone having different social and economic characteristics and the people living in those areas adapting differently to those social circumstances. • Different patterns of statistical data gathered from the different zones of the city demonstrated the different modes of adaptation to the social and economic circumstances that people were presented with. From this kind of analysis particular attention was focused on the zone of transition, the one nearest the city center. This was the area in which new immigrants to the city settled (as it was inexpensive and near to places of work) but it was also the area that seemed to manifest the most social problems (according to official statistics) from incidences of ill health to crime. • Existence of these problems in this area was explained by the social ecologists as being the result of the highly mobile and transitory nature of social life o In this way all kinds of social problems including crime were given a social origin. This social origin was called social disorganization • According to the Chicago School, social disorganization was the root of all social problems including crime. This term was intended to reflect the ways in which the problems of immigration and migration produced communities in which there were competing social values. This competition led to the breakdown of accepted ways of behaving making way for different ones, and in the process of change, produced abnormal (pathological) social conditions. • Structure of the local community (or more precisely the lack of structure) shapes the local crime rate rather than propensity or otherwise of any individual to commit crime • Criminal is always working class, or perhaps more accurately, part of the underclass, and most likely not only male but also a member of an ethnic minority Summary • Emergence of criminology as a discipline, positivism, both biological and sociological has had a profound effect on not only how the discipline conducts its business, but also by implication what the discipline has been concerned with in the conduct of that business. This means that criminology, as a discipline, has been historically defined by its concern with young, male, working class criminal activity. Victimology: The Holocaust Connection? • Origins located in the work of Von Hentig and Mendelsohn – lawyers in the United States, late 1940s • Von Hentig – worked with notion of victim proneness – argued that there were some people, by virtue of their structural characteristics who were much more likely to be victims than other people o Identified as being women, children, the elderly, the mentally subnormal, etc. • Mendelsohn – worked with notion of victim culpability – guided by what might be considered a reasonable or rational way of making sense of any particular incident and given the nature of the law • Positivistic victimology – identification of factors which contribute to a non-random pattern of victimization, a focus on interpersonal crimes of violence, and a concern to identify victims who may have contributed to their own victimization • The group of people most likely to be criminally victimized is the young adult male who goes out drinking two or three times a week, and those least likely to be criminally victimized is the elderly female • The “Criminological Other” is for the most part middle class and female, the “Victimological Other” is the white heterosexual male Criminology, Criminological Perspectives and Harold Shipman • Harold Shipman – general medical practitioner in Hyde, England o January 2000 – convicted of the murder of 15 of his patients, though it was believed that he had murdered about 200 patients throughout his medical career o Majority of his victims were elderly females o January 2004 – found dead in his prison cell, suicide; never admitted to acts of which he had been found guilty • Serial killers – predominantly male (95%) o Often assumed that sex is a key driver for male serial killers (does not necessarily mean a desire for conventional sexual activity, but serial killers are known to have, either in the act of killing, or before/after, used this as a means of expressing their particular sexual proclivities. I o To qualify as a serial killer, there must be three or more victims. This makes them different from spree or mass murderers, who may kill more than three people but who tend to do so all at the same time o Serial killers usually have a ‘cooling off’period between murders (question of motivation arises) o It is often the case that serial killers become more and more adventurous in their killing activities, often resulting in a killing in which it seems apparent that they ‘wanted’to get caught Psychiatry and Crime: Inside the Subconscious Mind • Typology of serial killing – Holmes and Holmes (1998) o Visionary – responding to voices/ hallucinations, probably psychotic o Missionary – rid the world of particular problem groups o Hedonistic – covers those who kill for lust, thrills, or comfort. The sexual dimension is most obvious in this group though not necessarily absent in the others o Power and control – to have the power over life and death • Based on this typology, it is suggested that Harold Shipman fits into the last type o Problem – he never admitted to any of his crimes and never allowed himself to be subjected to psychiatric investigation, so this conclusion is a guess • Many of Shipman’s patients report him as having a very good ‘bedside manner’, especially with the elderly. However the inquiry report also comments that he was aggressive, conceited and arrogant as well as dishonest o These personality traits may be indicative of someone who is rigid and obsessive, who may have difficulty in expressing their emotions and may also suffer from low self-esteem o Also suggested that he may have felt threatened when unable to control events so reacted in such a way as to assert control, may have gained a “buzz” from the association with death, and, given the addictive pleasure of this may have had a ‘need’ to kill with his final act of forging the will of his last victim (the only case in which there was any obvious indication of a possible financial reward), representing a ‘subconscious’desire to be caught Psychology and Crime: The Search for Individual Differences • Psychology – concerned to search for explanations through understanding of particular factors that might predispose one individual to commit a crime rather than another individual o Factors such as presence of a mental disorder, particular personality type, having suffered some physical or mental trauma in childhood, or other ‘triggers’like job loss, the break-up of a relationship and other stressful situational factors. • Evolutionary psychology suggests that human beings not only adapt to their environment as biological beings (that is, they evolve) but that such adaptations also occur at a psychological level. Such psychological adaptations reflect the importance of the processes of natural selection • Male behavior is driven by two processes: sexual jealousy and sexual rivalry – both seen to be mechanisms where access to women is secured and male power is maintained both over women and between themselves • However, in the case of Harold Shipman, there has been no evidence of a sexual motive or sexual expression o Yet, majority of his victims were female Sociology: Outside the Criminal Mind • Sociology looks at how particular socio-cultural settings in which a serial killer has found themselves might have contributed to the kind of crime committed and who the victims may be • In the case of Harold Shipman, sociology looks at social characteristics associated with the position in which he found himself as much as seeing those characteristics as part of his individual personality o For example, his arrogance can be associated to his training in the medical profession and social characteristics associated with the profession Feminism, Serial Killers and Masculinity • Cameron and Fraser (1987) – central project of masculinity is the search for transcendence, the struggle to master and control nature – expresses itself in masculine sexuality in three ways: through performance, penetration and conquest • In Cameron and Fraser’s analysis, the thrill of this kind of control is the ultimate achievement of the masculine project: the ultimate sign of masculinity. This understanding of the nature of masculinity leads us to think about the thrill, control, excitement that Harold Shipman might have associated with his behavior, not as a pathological expression of himself as a man, but more as an extension of what we might call normal forms of masculinity in modern society. Summary • Psychiatry – the subconscious mind o Helpful on Shipman? Maybe • Psychology – mental differences and psychological evolution o Helpful on Shipman? No • Sociology – structural conditions and social expectations o Helpful on Shipman? Yes • Feminism – masculinity o Helpful on Shipman? Yes • Importance of exploring this case study was to: o Demonstrate the diversity within criminology and between criminologists o Illustrate the way in which that diversity leads to different ways of thinking about crime and criminals o Highlight the importance of understanding not only the criminal but also the relevance of thinking about the victim in the commission of crime o To show the differences between criminological approaches to crime and the criminal and more journalistic and/or media analyses of crime and the criminal Chapter 4: The Search for Criminological Explanation AWord on Theory and Explanation • Theory – refers to ideas we have about the world, equips us with sets of assumptions that enable us to make sense of the world we live in • Criminological theory – works with ideas that enable us to make sense of the world above and beyond what we know based on our own experiences • John Braithwaite (1989) an influentialAustralian criminologist, stated that there are 13 facts about crime that criminology needs to explain that common sense knowledge can sometimes fail to appreciate: 1. Crime is committed disproportionately by males 2. Crime is perpetrated disproportionately by 15–25 year-olds 3. Crime is committed disproportionately by unmarried people 4. Crime is committed disproportionately by people living in large cities 5. Crime is committed disproportionately by people who have experienced high residential mobility and who live in areas characterized by high residential mobility 6. Young people who are strongly attached to their school are less likely to engage in crime 7. Young people who have high educational and occupational aspirations are less likely to engage in crime 8. Young people who do poorly at school are more likely to engage in crime 9. Young people who are strongly attached to their parents are less likely to engage in crime 10. Young people who have friendships with criminals are more likely to engage in crime themselves 11. People who believe strongly in complying with the law are less likely to violate the law 12. For both men and women, being at the bottom of the class structure – whether measured by personal socioeconomic status, socio- economic status of the areas of residence, being unemployed or belonging to an oppressed racial minority – increases rates of offending for all types of crime apart from those for which opportunities are systematically less available to the poor 13. Crime rates have been increasing since the end of World War Two in most countries developed and developing. The only case of a country which has been clearly shown to have a falling crime rate in this period is Japan Rational Ch
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