- Most literally, the study of crime , its perpetrators, and its causes; and, relatedly, an interest in its prevention, and in the deterrence, treatment, and punishment of offenders (see, Criminology, 2nd edn., 1992).Approaches and theoretical traditions are diverse. Thus, criminology as the study of crime will be interested in the distribution of crime, and in the techniques and organization of crime. Criminology as the study of criminals might seek explanations for criminal behaviour in biology, psychology, or in the political economy of society. The related sociology of law may be interested in the processes of making and breaking laws and in issues such as proportionality-making the punishment fit the crime. During the 1960s and early 1970s, a sociology of deviance developed as a source of sociological opposition to the law-enforcement and establishment-orientation or traditional criminology, and as an epistemological critique of unquestioned assumptions about what constitutes crime or deviance. In the 1970s and 1980s external and internal influences on criminology encouraged the development of critical criminology and feminist criminology (see criminology, critical and criminology, feminist ). The latter drew attention to the near invisibility of women in criminological work and gave significant impetus to rectifying the past neglect of victims of crime. Generally speaking, the politics of these new positions has been identified with supporting and asserting the rights of minority groups.Sometimes seen as a sub-field of sociology, sometimes as a discipline in itself, criminology is clearly a mixed but dynamic enterprise, drawing on (among others) sociology, economics, history, psychology, and anthropology. It can be criticized for its inability to produce an overall explanatory theory; nevertheless, the subject continues to develop. Some commentators have suggested that its principal concern ought to be the study of the production and disruption of order-in other words control rather than crime-while critics have invoked a postmodern vision of the death of criminology. Yet others argue that such announcements are premature, and are promoting new directions in crime prevention, and critical and realist criminology (see criminology, realist )., Criminological Controversies (1996), provides an excellent introduction to the theoretical and empirical issues that dominate the field. See also broken windows thesis ; criminal statistics ; criminology ; labelling ; criminology, positivist.
Dictionary of sociology. 2013.