What are the Basics of Critical Criminology?
While criminology is the scientific study of the interactions that inherently occur between criminals and the public or the criminal elements and society, critical criminology is slightly different. This concept of criminology has a solid foundation in the belief that a singular crime is considered to be criminal due to the historical and social beliefs at the time. For example, one famous illustration of this is that homosexuality was considered to be illegal for individuals in the United Kingdom. This type of interaction between individuals was declared legal for men over 21, but this was not until 1967. Since there is nothing within the act that changed over the years, the only thing that changed was the judicial government at the time and what they believed was morally right or wrong. Overall, there is nothing deemed inherently wrong about the act itself. One of the main questions that individuals interested in critical criminology need to ask themselves whether or not an act is a crime because it is wrong or whether it is merely a crime because someone with the elected power decided to make it so.
Within critical criminology, there are a number of theories that have been formed. Conflict theories were never very popular within the United States, in part due to the fact that during the late 1970’s, when critical criminology was more popular, there were many criminology departments that were closed due to political reasons. Other critical criminologists were concerned that conflict theories did not properly address the different issues that faced society. Critics of conflict theories that exist in criminology maintain that these individuals ignored some important differences in the level of criminal activities between socialist and capitalist societies. Japan and Switzerland are two countries that are socialist in nature, but they have extremely low rates of crime in their countries, as compared to capitalist societies like the United States of America.
In feminist theories, individuals attempt to give another dimension to criminology, in the form of gender. The supporters of these theories are for the most part trying to bring a new form of awareness to the way crime is viewed. Instead of focusing on criminals who are male performing crimes against other males, it is argued that criminologists need to investigate more how the female affects this preconceived approach to crime. Many parties concerned with this type of critical approach to criminology also try to educate other female criminologists. This is important to this group of individuals because too many times, female criminologists will adopt the male perspective and perpetuate the same cycle of applying male concepts on females in the world of crime.
While there are other theories that are applicable in the field of criminology, such as postmodern and peacemaking theories, the conflict and feminist theories are the most prevalent ones within the world of criminology at large. By looking at the way that different theories can be applied to criminology and the different areas that fall under the term, individuals are able to learn more about the society in which they live. Another point that can be explored would be how the criminal relates to the society in which the crime is committed.
What is the Definition of Criminology?
When thinking about what criminology is, an individual needs to first consider what aspects and fields are affected by the criminal element. Some of these fields will also either perpetuate or deter crime, depending on how they are used. Anthropology, sociology, law, research positions and others all tie into criminology. Criminology could then be defined as how any of these many multitudes of society’s development and creation are able to affect how individuals interact, specifically when it comes to the degenerate element. Using science to approach the evolution of crime within an area or timeframe allows individuals to learn how an environment may respond to and otherwise affect crime. Certain things can be analyzed in order to come to a conclusion about crime and the criminal element within a particular area, such as any hereditary elements that may have had a factor or psychological issues that would have instigated the crime. In addition, many criminologists are also interested in studying how the punishment of criminals affects the likelihood of the same crimes being performed.
When people’s actions or movements deviate from the normal status of things in a way which is excessively harmful or dangerous to themselves or others, criminologists may become involved in the situation. By studying both crime and the law, an academic person can come up with possible motivations for an individual’s actions. These theoretical explanations are often helpful when profiling a person who has yet to be caught by the police, as well as when statistics are needed in order to illustrate a trend or issue for a community. However, it is not just crimes that are studied and analyzed by the criminologist. In addition, they also look at the criminal justice system on a whole in order to make sure that it is functioning in a sufficient manner that benefits the lives of citizens.
The definition of criminology is broad in order to encompass all of the different fields that fall under the term. However, by being more specific in the type of criminology that is being investigated, an individual is able to focus more on the individuals cornerstones of the different types of criminology that exist. For example, psychological criminology was a part of criminology for a long time but did not begin to be looked at on its own until the 20th century. This field looks at the abnormalities and mental diseases that may feed criminal behaviors. It is specialized in the way that proponents of this type of criminology believe that the personality of the individual is the breeding ground for the levels and types of crime that the individual will be capable of committing. Emotions and behavior patterns are often able to remain relatively stable and predictable regardless of what type of environment the individual is placed into, which helps academics to formulate the idea that this is what defines a person. Criminologists are able to look at crime and other related fields from different perspectives in order to analyze the cause and effect relationship of the crime, the individual and the environment in which they are immersed.
Exploring the History of Criminology
To many people interested in the roots and origin of Criminology, Lombroso is considered to be the father of the science, meaning that he explored it and examined it from many angles in order to expose it. It was first used by a law professor in Italy, Raffaele Garofalo, who actually used the Italian term for the word, criminologia. A French anthropologist also used the term around the same time as Garofalo, who referred to the term as criminology. There are some who believe that it is possible that the study of bumps on an individual’s skull, referred to as Phrenology, is a better mark of representation when it comes to the scientific origins of the term. Lombroso is considered to be the father of criminology because of the many advances that he attempted to make in the field. If not for him, criminology might not be as developed as it is today.
Over time, many different theories were composed as to what caused criminal behavior. These theories have their roots in biology, psychology, and society, to name a few. Over time, by using these foundations for new theories, different schools of thought began to emerge. Through these different schools of thought, the theoretical science of the criminal element could be rationalized. Individuals often debate in order to attempt to define the reason for crime, so that it may then be eliminated by solving the problem of what causes crime. By identifying and responding to the motivator for crime and deviant behavior, more effective measures of social control could be put into action. Currently, we are able to take care of the symptoms of crime. For example, we have police officers who catch criminals. When found guilty by a panel of their own peers, the criminal will go to jail. That takes the criminal out of society. However, there are new criminals emerging every day. We have learned to treat the symptoms, the individual criminals, but we have not yet been able to determine the instigating factor in these developments.
Throughout the history of criminology, this is the main goal of the science. Since it is a theoretical science, all of the theories that correspond to the topic cannot immediately be proven as accurate or inaccurate, merely theoretical. However, the continuous effort of individuals to idealize the workings of the individual and society have been transformed and re-defined since the beginning use of the term. If the history of criminology shows us anything, it is that the human nature to establish right from wrong and the differences between individuals distinguishing the difference is virtually a timeless theme, at least since its birth. By continuously researching and documenting the variables and changes within society and crime, people who are interested in criminology can line up the theories with the established facts. After this is done, it is possible to sit down and analyze the coinciding factors in order to determine the best course of action when it comes to evolving society so as to limit crime and intolerance as much as possible.
Exploring the Basics of Postmodern Criminology
One of the most current theories to be designed within the science of criminology would be those that adhere to the postmodern perspective. When it comes to postmodern criminology, one of the most basic beliefs and supposititious is that not only is crime the result of the social interactions in an area, which is the foundation of most conflict theories in criminology, but also that the social context will play a part on the outcome of a situation as well. This extends on the conflict theories that were created, which suggest that the criminal is responsible for his or her own actions, and that the deviant behavior of the individual is what caused them to go against the social norms that have been established by the ruling government. By expanding upon theories that have already been created, it is possible for individuals to evolve the beliefs more and hopefully get closer to the truth of identifying how a criminal is created and what effects this has on individuals and the society at large.
Postmodern criminology supporters will look at a crime or criminal action and will go on to ask a very important question. Was the crime a result of the environment that exists in the society where the crime was committed? By identifying whether or not the culture was responsible for the crime or not, it is possible to learn more concretely how different instances in an individual’s life will affect them. In some cases, individuals are forced to go against the normal responses to particular situations. There are many times in which an individual may have to kill another person, and while this type of violence is rarely enjoyed, it can be a last resort for certain people. A good example of this having occurred would be to look at an instance in which a policeman had to shoot a suspect in order to save the lives of many innocent people in the immediate area. The individual policeman cannot be said to be inherently criminal or deviant, because if the shooting is justified than he had no other reaction. Even if another reaction could have occurred, it may not have been as successful, beneficial or helpful to the individuals that were also involved in the situation. In making the decision to stop the shooter in the illustrated situation, the policeman stepped beyond the ordinarily imposed social norms that would define murder. Instead, he is more likely to be seen as providing a service to the individuals that were being threatened in the situation.
By building and rebuilding social contexts and responses, as a whole we can work together to create a better society. Within a better society, there will be less criminal elements to distract the public. This is because the responses that we develop will be more likely to benefit others in addition to ourselves in an honest form. When the society is more stable and healthy the criminal element will not be as prevalent, which is one of the important building blocks of postmodern criminology theories.