introduction_to_critical_criminology.doc

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Page 8 of 44 26th May 2017 http://www.open.edu/openlearn/people-politics-law/introduction-critical-criminology/content- section-0
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Introduction to critical criminology Mainstream or standard criminology The field of criminology includes a diverse range of viewpoints and perspectives and is informed by a wide array of research methods and theoretical approaches. This diversity can make it difficult for those coming to criminology for the first time to locate the theoretical underpinnings or disciplinary roots of particular criminological perspectives. In order to situate the ideas that are associated with ‘critical’ or ‘radical’ criminology, we include here a very brief consideration of the history of the development of two ‘standard’ criminological perspectives: classical criminology and positivist criminology. Classical school of criminology The emergence of criminological thinking is often traced to eighteenth-century criminal law reformers, such as Cesare Beccaria, Jeremy Bentham, and John Howard who began to question the legal constructions of crime. These early scholars were concerned with the legal protections of both the rights of society and those of the individual. Such principles are now considered part of the classical school of criminology. They form the foundations on which many contemporary criminal justice policies were founded and include the following notions: human beings have free will and are rational actors human beings have certain inalienable rights Page 9 of 44 26th May 2017 http://www.open.edu/openlearn/people-politics-law/introduction-critical-criminology/content- section-0
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Introduction to critical criminology there is a social contract between citizens and the state. The idea of a social contract is a key feature of the classical school and includes the notion that transgressions that breach the social contract are seen by society as ‘crimes’ (Williams and McShane, 1999). Accordingly, the punishment of individuals is justified as a deterrent from criminal behaviour and to preserve the social contract. Within the classical school of criminology, crime is seen as a moral transgression against society. Positivist school of criminology In the late nineteenth century, some of the principles on which the classical school was based began to be challenged by the emergent positivist school in criminology, led primarily by three Italian thinkers: Cesare Lombroso, Enrico Ferri, and Raffaele Garofalo. It is at this point that the term ‘criminology’ first emerged, both in the work of Italian Raffaele Garofalo (criminologia) in 1885 and in the work of French anthropologist Paul Topinard (criminologie) around the same time. Positivist criminology assumes that criminal behaviour has its own distinct set of characteristics. As a result, most criminological research conducted within a positivist paradigm has sought to identify key differences between ‘criminals’ and ‘non-criminals’.
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