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ERIC Number: EJ863126
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Dec
Pages: 13
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0895-4852
A Delinquent Discipline: The Rise and Fall of Criminology
Adams, Mike S.
Academic Questions, v22 n4 p491-503 Dec 2009
What is the cause of crime? One can find answers in many places: in Genesis, in the plays of Sophocles and Shakespeare, in Dostoyevsky's "Crime and Punishment" and "Brothers Karamazov." The many answers include impiety, appetite, rage, and even the lure of transgression itself. For many, religious and poetic insights still offer the most compelling explanations. In the eighteenth-century, Enlightenment scholars and intellectuals began seeking a different kind of answer--one rooted in systematic inquiry and rational study. Eventually these inquiries crystallized as the field of criminology, a distinct branch of social science, interwoven within the history of sociology. Within the field of criminology today the dominant answer to "What causes people to commit crime?" includes three elements: (1) blocked opportunities; (2) delinquent peers; and (3) delinquent labels. That's the story leading criminology textbooks and theorists tell. Oddly, however, the supporting evidence adduced by criminologists falls far short. Most of it is marred by a deep systematic error that confuses cause and effect. This doesn't mean that the Enlightenment-inspired search for social scientific explanations of criminality was misguided. To the contrary, one can learn some important things from the empirical and statistical study of crime. But honest twenty-first century criminology will have to review the "blocked opportunities, delinquent peers, delinquent labels" explanations with renewed skepticism. Criminology would do better to reexamine the views of its founders, who believed that criminal behavior was a function of individual choice. This article discusses the rise and fall of criminology. (Contains 13 footnotes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A