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Firstly, I would like to express my profound sense of gratitude towards
the almighty “ALLAH” for providing me with the authentic circumstances
which were mandatory for the completion of my project.

Secondly, I am highly indebted to Prof Manjula Batra at Faculty of Law,

Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi for providing me with constant
encouragement and guidance throughout the preparation of this project.

Thirdly, I thank the Law library staff who liaised with us in searching
material relating to the project.

My cardinal thanks are also for my parents, friends and all teachers of
law department in our college who have always been the source of my
inspiration and motivation without which I would have never been able
to unabridged my project.

My father, a professor with large access to books of value has been of

great help to me.

Without the contribution of the above said people I could have never
completed this project.



Table of Contents
1. What is Crime……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..3
2. Definition of Crime……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….7
3. A Short History of Criminology……………………………………………………………………………………………….9
4. The Role of Theory in Criminology………………………………………………………………………………………..12
5. What Is Theory………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….13
6. Classical Theory…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………15
7. Critiques of Classic Theory………………………………………………………………………………………………..…17
8. Neoclassic Theory………………………………………………………………………………………………………………17
9. Positivist Criminology…………………………………………………………………………………………………………18
10. Definition of Criminology…………………………………………………………………………………………………….19
11. Nature and Scope of Criminology…………………………………………………………………………………………..21
12. Nature and extent of criminology………………………………………………………………………………………….23
13. Conclusion………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..25
14. Bibliography……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..27

What Is Crime?
Before going into the field of criminology, we must answer this question at the outset that
what is Crime. The term criminal can and has been applied to many types of behavior, some
of which nearly all of us have been guilty of at some time in our lives. We can all think of
acts that we feel ought to be criminal but are not, or acts that should not be criminal but are.
The list of acts that someone or another at different times and at different places may consider
to be crimes is very large, and only a few are defined as criminal by the United States law at
this time. Despite these difficulties, we need a definition of crime in order to proceed. The
most often-quoted definition is that of Paul Tappan (1947), who defined crime as “an
intentional act in violation of the criminal law committed without defense or excuse, and
penalized by the state” (p. 100).

A crime is thus an act in violation of a criminal law for which a punishment is prescribed; the
person committing it must have intended to do so and must have done so without legally
acceptable defense or justification. Tappan’s definition is strictly a legal one that reminds us
that the state, and only the state, has the power to define crime. Hypothetically, a society
could eradicate crime tomorrow simply by rescinding all of its criminal statutes. Of course,
this would not eliminate the behavior specified by the laws; in fact, the behavior would
doubtless increase because the behavior could no longer be officially punished. While it is
absurd to think that any society would try to solve its crime problem by eliminating its
criminal statutes, legislative bodies are continually revising, adding to, and deleting from
their criminal statutes.

Crime is from the Latin word “crimen” meaning accusation or fault. Crime has become a
terrible social problem in the world. It has become almost a household word in many parts in
Africa. Despite this, groups and individuals within society differ in their definition of crime.
Some would equate crime with all ant-social behaviour. Others would argue that crimes are
such acts as racism, sexism and imperialism that violate basic human rights. Similarly, some
use moral rather than legal criteria to define what is or is not a crime. There are religious
people, who regard certain behavior as a crime, if it meets their criteria for sin.

Sociologically, crime is a form of deviance and therefore a social problem in any society.
Fuller and Myers (1973) categorized social problem as: “a condition which is defined by a
considerable number of persons as a deviation from social norm (rules of conduct) which
they cherish”. Sheila Balkan further observes that “The designation of behavior as a crime, (a

special case of the more comprehensive category of deviance) indicates that the behavior is
formally defined as illegal through the codification of laws which are assumed to embody the
societal consensus” Giddens ( 1994) defines crime as non-conformist conduct that breaks a
law. The emphasis is on the inter connections between conformity and deviance in different
social context. The content of crime is culturally determined.

Durkheim (1993) defined crime within a social context. He saw crime as a social product,
determine by social conditions, capable of being controlled only in social terms. Crime is
therefore normal in all societies and a society exempt from crime would necessitate a
standardization of moral concepts of all individuals, which is neither possible nor desirable.
Durkheim was of the opinion that crime is a normal phenomenon in the society, a natural and
inevitable product of collective life and social evolution. He held that the collective
conscience of a people defines what crime is. He believed that crime plays a definite role in
social life. He therefore defined crime as “an act which offends strong and defined state of
collective conscience” (Okeshola 2008).

Sellin (1938) argues that crime “is a violation of culture norms, which is something beyond
mere violation of law per se. He maintains that mere violation of the criminal law is an
artificial criterion of criminality. According to Mc Connell (2004), sociological approach to
crime will enable us to understand the economics, gender, education, race, religion, family
life and all other social phenomena that are directly involved in crime.

No matter which definition of crime we embrace, criminal law is tied to criminal law. Hence
crime is a violation of societal rules of behaviour as interpreted and expressed by a criminal
legal code created by people holding social and political power. Individuals who violate these
rules are subject to sanctions by state authority, social stigma and loss of status.

According to Stephen and Peter (2001), crime depends on law and on particular instances of
action being identified and interpreted as crime. Crime also depends on crime-processing
agencies; conventionally the police and the courts.

Therefore, the concept of crime implies:

1. Existing norms or rules of conducts established through societal consensus.

2. Codification of such rules in the form of Criminal Law
3. A deviation from the rules or violation of the laws.
4. Prescription of sanctions or punishment.

5. Establishment of agencies of formal controls like the police force to perform
regulatory functions.

Despite the fact that the concept of crime defies a precise definition as already pointed out,
yet some consensus now exist among criminologists that a crime must have the following
features. (Clifford, 1974):

1. It must be legally forbidden.

2. Such a crime must have some harm done to some people or external consequence.
3. It must be an intentional act or a reckless action or inaction.
4. There must be a criminal intent,
5. The criminal intent must coincide with the criminal action.
6. There must be a causal relationship between the legally forbidden act and the
voluntary reaction.

In order to answer this question we must know first, what is law because the two questions
are closely interrelated? Traditionally, we know a law to be a command enjoining a course of
conduct. The command may be of a sovereign or of political superiors to the political
inferiors; or it may be the command of a legally constituted body or a legislation emanating
from a duly constituted legislature to all the members of the society. A crime may, therefore,
be an act of disobedience to such a law forbidding or commanding it. But then disobedience
of all laws may not be a crime, for instance, disobedience of civil laws or laws of inheritance
or contracts. Therefore, a crime would mean something more than a mere disobedience to a
law, "it means an act which is both forbidden by law and revolting to the moral sentiments of
the society." Thus robbery or murder would be a crime, because they are revolting to the
moral sentiments of the society, but a disobedience of the revenue laws or the laws of
contract would not constitute a crime. Then again, "the moral sentiments of a society" is a
flexible term, because they may change, and they do change from time to time with the
growth of the public opinion and the social necessities of the times.

So also, the moral values of one country may be and often are quite contrary to the moral
values of another country. To cite a few instances, heresy was a crime at one time in most of
the countries of the world, because in those days it offended the moral sentiments of the
society. It was punished with burning. But nobody is punished nowadays for his religious
beliefs, not even in a theocratic state. The reason is obvious.

Now it does not offend the moral sentiments of the society. Adultery is another such instance.
It is a crime punishable under our Penal Code, but it is not so in some of the countries of the
West. Then again suttee, i.e., burning of a married woman on the funeral pyre of her deceased
husband, was for a long time considered to be a virtue in our own country, but now it is a
crime. Similarly, polygamy was not a crime in our country until it was made so by the Hindu
Marriage Act, 1955. This Act, it may be stated, does not apply to Mohammedans or
Christians. But Christians are forbidden to practice polygamy under their law of marriage,
while Mohammedans are yet immune from punishment for polygamy. All these instances go
to show that the content of crime changes from time to time in the same country and from
country to country at the same time because it is conditioned by the moral value approved of
by a particular society in a particular age in a particular country. A crime of yesterday may
become a virtue tomorrow and so also a virtue of yesterday may become a crime tomorrow.
Such being the content of crime, all attempts made from time to time beginning with
Blackstone down to Kenny in modern times to define it have proved abortive.

Therefore, the present writer agrees with Russell when he observes that "to define crime is a
task which so far has not been satisfactorily accomplished by any writer. In fact, criminal
offences are basically the creation of the criminal policy adopted from time to time by those
sections of the community who are powerful or astute enough to safeguard their own security
and comfort by causing the sovereign power in the state to repress conduct which they feel
may endanger their position". But a student embarking on study of principles of criminal law
must understand the chief characteristics and the true attributes of a crime. Though a crime,
as we have seen, is difficult of a definition in the true sense of the term, a definition of a
crime must give us "the whole thing and the sole thing," telling us something that shall be
true of every crime and yet not be true of any other conceivable non-criminal breach of law.

We cannot produce such a definition of crime as might be flexible enough to be true in all
countries, in all ages and in all times. Nevertheless, a crime may be described and its
attributes and characteristics be clearly understood. In order to achieve this object, we
propose to adopt two ways, namely, first, we shall distinguish crime from civil and moral
wrongs, and secondly, we shall critically examine all the definitions constructed by the
eminent criminal jurists from time to time.

Human conduct in violation of the criminal laws of a jurisdiction that has the power to make
such laws, and for which there is some form of authorized sanction.


Many prominent jurists have made attempts to define Crime.

Sir William Blackstone in his classical work, Commentaries on the Laws of England,
Volume IV, which is devoted to “Public Wrongs or Crimes,” attempted to define crime at
two different places in his work. We shall examine both these definitions given by him. At
one place, he states that crime is an act committed or omitted in violation of a public law
forbidding or commanding it. Here in defining crime Blackstone uses "public law." Now
what is meant by public law? It has several accepted meanings. For instance, Austin takes
public law as identical with constitutional law. In that sense, the definition given by him
would cover only political offences which are only a very small portion of the whole field of
crime. If we were to follow Austin and interpret the definition given by Blackstone as
violation of our constitutional law, namely, Articles 21 and 31, which guarantee protection of
one's life, liberty and property, even then the definition of crime would remain too narrow.
The Germans, on the other hand, interpret "public law" to mean both constitutional law and
criminal law. In this sense, the definition given by Blackstone ceases to define because we
shall be using criminal law in defining a crime. Then again, some take "public law" to mean
positive law or municipal law, which would mean all laws made by the state. In that sense,
the definition given by Blackstone obviously become too wide, for the crime will include
every legal wrong or violation of law. Therefore, this definition given by Blackstone is not

Now we pass on to the second definition given by the same jurist, Blackstone. He defines
crime as “a violation of the public rights and duties due to the whole community considered
as a community.” This definition has been slightly altered by the learned editor of
Blackstone, Serjeant Stephen, who expresses it thus:

A crime is a violation of a right considered in reference to the evil tendency of such violation
as regards the community at large.

As regards the reconstructed definition, it might be observed that it introduces a new error,
namely, it limits crimes to violations of rights only, whereas Blackstone applied it to a
violation of both a right and a duty. Instances of a violation of a duty amounting to crimes are
numerous, for example, being in possession of house-breaking tools by night or possession of
counterfeit coins. Undoubtedly the idea incorporated in the definition given by Blackstone as

well as by his learned editor Stephen is very important, namely, that crimes are breaches of
those laws which injure the community. The same was the idea which was noted by the
Roman jurists as well. Therefore they called crimes delicta publica and the criminal trials
judicia publica. Indeed, if only a rough, general description of crime were to be given then
public mischief could be made the salient feature of the crime, but this alone would not
suffice for a definition. It would be a vague fact for a definition of a crime. There are many
things which are only breaches of contract and are injurious to the community but they are
not crimes, for example, the negligent management of the affairs of a company, which may
bring about a calamity to the community greater than that produced by a thief stealing an
article. The latter is a crime, while the former is only a wrong and not a crime. On the other
hand, a conduct may amount to a crime, though instead of bringing an evil to the community
it may bring some good to the community. For instance, constructing a sloping causeway,
though it might facilitate the landing of passengers and goods, is an offence of common
nuisance. Therefore, the definition of crime that it is a legal wrong, if it tends to cause evil to
the community, is not correct. It is, of course, an instructive general description of it.

Deviance is defined as the Behaviour that departs from the social norm but is not always


A Short History of Criminology

Criminology is a young discipline, although humans have probably been theorizing about
crime and its causes ever since they first made rules and observed others breaking them.
What and how people thought about crime and criminals (as well as all other things) in the
past was strongly influenced by the social and intellectual currents of their time. This is no
less true of what and how modern professional criminologists think about crime and
criminals. In prescientific days, explanations for bad behavior were often of a religious or
spiritual nature, such as demonic possession or the abuse of free will. Because of the legacy
of Original Sin, all human beings were considered born
sinners. The gift of the grace of God kept men and women
on the straight and narrow, and if they deviated from this
line it was because God was no longer their guide and
compass. Other more intellectual types believed that the
human character and personality are observable in physical
appearance. Consider Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar’s distrust
of Cassius because he “has a lean and hungry look.” Such
folk wisdom was systematized by an Italian physician
named Giambattista della Porta, who developed a theory of
human personality called physiognomy in 1558. Porta
claimed that the study of physical appearance, particularly of
the face, could reveal much about a person’s personality and Charles Darwin (1809–1882)
Heavily influenced biological positivism
character. Thieves, for instance, were said to have large lips in criminology

and sharp vision. Porta was writing during a historical period

known as the Renaissance, a period between approximately 1450 and 1600, which saw a
change in thinking from the pure God-centered supernaturalism and relative barbarism of the
middle Ages to more human-centered naturalism.

Renaissance means “rebirth” and refers to the rediscovery of the thinking traditions of the
ancient Greeks. The sciences (primitive as they were) and arts were becoming important, the
printing press was invented, and Christopher Columbus “discovered” America during this
period. In short, the Renaissance began to move human thinking away from the absolute
authority of received opinion and toward a way that would eventually lead to the modern
scientific method. Another major demarcation in the emergence of the modern world was the
Enlightenment, or Age of Reason. The Enlightenment was the period approximately between
1650 and 1800. It might be said that the Renaissance provided a key to the human mind and
the Enlightenment opened the door. Whereas the Renaissance is associated with advances in
art, literature, music, and philosophy, the Enlightenment is associated with advances in
mathematics, science, and the dignity and worth of the individual as exemplified by a concern
for human rights. This concern led to reforms in criminal justice systems throughout Europe,
a process given a major push by Cesare Beccaria’s work On Crimes and Punishments, which
ushered in the so-called classical school. The classical school emphasized human rationality
and free will in its explanations for criminal behavior.

Modern criminology really began to take shape with the increasing faith among intellectuals
that science could provide answers for everything. These individuals witnessed the
harnessing of the forces of nature to build and operate the great machines and mechanisms
that drove the Industrial Revolution. They also witnessed the strides made in biology after
Charles Darwin’s works on the evolution of species. Criminology saw the beginning of the so
called positivist school during this period. Theories of character, such as Franz Josef Gall’s
system of phrenology—assessing character from physical features of the skull—abounded.
The basic idea behind phrenology was that cognitive functions are localized in the brain, and
that the parts regulating the most dominant functions were bigger than parts regulating the
less dominant ones. Criminals were said to have large protuberances in parts of the brain
thought to regulate craftiness, brutishness, moral insensibility, and so on, and small bumps in
such “localities” as intelligence, honor, and piety. The biggest impact during this period,
however, was made by Cesare Lombroso’s theory of atavism, or the born criminal.
Criminologists from this point on were obsessed with measuring, sorting, and sifting all kinds
of data (mostly physical) about criminal behavior. The main stumbling block to
criminological advancement during this period was the inadequacy of its research. The
intricacies of scientifically valid research design and measurement were not appreciated, and
statistical techniques were truly primitive by today’s standards.

The so-called Progressive Era (about 1890 to 1920) ushered in new social ideologies and new
ways of thinking about crime. The era was one of liberal efforts to bring about social reform
as unions, women, and other disadvantaged groups struggled for recognition. Criminology
largely turned away from what was disparagingly termed “biological determinism,” which
implied that nothing could be done to reform criminals, to cultural determinism. If behavior is
caused by what people experience in their environments, so the optimistic argument went,

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then we can change their behavior by changing their environment. It was during this period
that sociology became the disciplinary home of criminology. Criminology became less
interested in why individuals commit crime from biological or psychological points of view
and more concerned with aggregate level (social structures, neighborhoods, subcultures, etc.)
data. It was during this period that the so-called structural theories of crime, such as the
Chicago school of social ecology, were formulated. Anomie strain theory was another
structural/ cultural theory that emerged somewhat later (1938). This theory was doubtless
influenced strongly by the American experience of the Great Depression and of the exclusion
of blacks from many areas of American society.

The period from the 1950s through the early 1970s saw considerable dissatisfaction with the
strong structural approach, which many viewed as proceeding as if individuals were almost
irrelevant to explaining criminal behavior. Criminological theory moved toward integrating
psychology and sociology during this period and strongly emphasized the importance of
socialization. Control theories were highly popular at this time, as was labeling theory.

Because the latter part of this period was a time of great tumult in the United States (the anti-
war, civil rights, women’s, and gay rights movements), it also saw the emergence of several
theories, such as conflict theory, that were highly critical of American society. These theories
extended to earlier works of Marxist criminologists, who tended to believe that the only real
cause of crime was capitalism. These theories provided little new in terms of our
understanding of “street” criminal behavior, but they did spark an interest in white-collar
crime and how laws were made by the powerful and applied against the powerless.

Perhaps because of a new conservative mood in the United States, theories with the classical
taste for free will and rationality (albeit modified) embedded in them reemerged in the 1980s.
These were rational choice, deterrence, and routine activities theories, all of which had strong
implications for criminal justice policy. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, we witnessed a
resurgence of biosocial theories. These theories view all behavior as the result of various
biological factors interacting with each other and with the past and present environments of
the actors involved. Biosocial theories have been on the periphery of criminology since its
beginning but have been hampered by perceptions of them as driven by an illiberal agenda
and by their inability to “get inside” the mysteries of heredity and the workings of the brain.
The truly spectacular advances in the observational techniques (brain scan methods, $10
cheek swabs to test DNA, etc.) in the genomic and neurosciences over the past two decades

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have made these things less of a mystery today, and social scientists are increasingly realizing
that there is nothing illiberal about recognizing the biology of human nature.

No science advances without the technology at its disposal to plumb its depths. For instance,
the existence of atoms was first proposed by Greek philosophers more than 2,500 years ago.
This was dismissed as merely philosophical speculation until the early 19th century, when
English chemist John Dalton proposed his atomic theory of chemistry, which asserted that all
chemical reactions are the rearrangements of atoms. Dalton was heavily criticized by
chemists who wanted a “pure” chemistry uncontaminated by physics. Yet chemists
everywhere soon adopted the idea of atoms, but still debated whether they were an actual
physical reality or just a useful concept. Using scanning tunneling microscopes, today we can
see individual atoms, and the argument has been put to rest.

Criminologists are in a position similar to that of chemists 100 years ago. The concepts,
methods, and measuring devices available to geneticists, neuroscientists, endocrinologists,
and other biological scientists may do for the progress of criminology what physics did for
chemistry, what chemistry did for biology, and what biology is increasingly doing for
psychology. Exceptionally ambitious longitudinal studies carried out over decades in concert
with medical and biological scientists, such as the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and
Development Study (Moffitt, 1993), the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health
Study (Udry, 2003), and the National Youth Survey (Menard & Mihalic, 2001), are able to
gather a wealth of genetic, neurological, and physiological data. Such studies are being
conducted with increasing frequency. Integrating these hard science disciplines into
criminology will no more rob it of its autonomy than physics robbed chemistry or chemistry
robbed biology. On the contrary, physics made possible huge advances in chemistry, and
chemistry did the same for biology. These advances would not have happened had scientists
maintained their call for the “purity” of their disciplines.

The Role of Theory in Criminology

When an FBI agent asked the depression-era bank robber Willie Sutton why he robbed banks,
Sutton replied, “Because that’s where the money is.” In his own way, Sutton was offering a
theory explaining the behavior of bank robbers. Behind his witty answer is a model of a kind
of person who has learned how to take advantage of opportunities provided by convenient
targets flush with a valued commodity. Thus, if we put a certain kind of personality and
learning together with opportunity and coveted resources, we get bank robbery. This is what

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theory making is all about: trying to grasp how all the known correlates of a phenomenon are
linked together in non-coincidental ways to produce an effect.

Just as medical scientists want to find out what causes disease, criminologists are interested
in finding factors that cause crime and criminality. As is the case with disease, there are a
variety of risk factors to be considered when searching for causes of criminal behavior. The
first step in detected causes is to discover correlates, which are factors that are related to the
phenomenon of interest. To discover whether two factors are related, we must see whether
they vary together; that is, if one variable goes up or down, the other goes up or down as well.
Establishing causality requires much more than simply establishing a correlation. Take
gender, the most thoroughly documented correlate of criminal behavior ever identified.
Literally thousands of studies throughout the world, including European studies going back
five or six centuries, have consistently reported strong gender differences in all sorts of
antisocial behavior, including crime, and the more serious the crime the stronger that
difference is. All studies are unanimous in indicating that males are more criminal than
females. Establishing why gender is such a strong correlate of crime is the real challenge, as
it is with any other correlate. Trying to establish causes is the business of theory.

What Is Theory?

A theory is a set of logically interconnected propositions explaining how phenomena are

related and from which a number of hypotheses can be derived and tested. Theories should
provide coherent explanations of the phenomena they address, they should correspond with
the relevant empirical facts, and they should provide practical guidance for researchers
looking for further facts. This guidance takes the form of a series of statements that can be
logically deduced from the assertions of the theory. We called these statements hypotheses,
which are statements about relationships between and among factors we expect to find based
on the logic of our theories. Hypotheses and theories support one another in the sense that
theories provided the raw material (the ideas) for generating hypotheses, and hypotheses
support or fail to support theories by exposing them to empirical testing. Theories are devised
to explain how a number of different correlates may actually be causally related to crime and
criminality rather than simply associated with them. We emphasize that when we talk of
causes we do not mean that when X is present Y will occur in a completely prescribed way.
We mean that when X is present Y has a certain probability of occurring, and perhaps only
then if X is present along with factors A, B, and C. In many ways, crime is like illness

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because there may be as many routes to becoming criminal as there are to becoming ill. In
other words, criminologists have never uncovered a necessary cause (a factor that must be
present for criminal behavior to occur and in the absence of which criminal behavior has
never occurred) or a sufficient cause (a factor that is able to produce criminal behavior
without being augmented by some other factor).

There is a lot of confusion among laypersons about the term theory. We often hear statements
such as, “That’s just theory” or hear it negatively contrasted with practice: “That’s all right in
theory, but it won’t work in the real world.” Such statements imply that a theory is a poor
relative of a fact, something impractical we grasp at in the absence of solid, practical

Nothing could be further from the truth. Theories help us to make sense of a diversity of
seemingly unrelated facts and propositions, and they even tell us where to look for more
facts, which make theories very practical things indeed.

We all use theory every day to fit facts together. A detective confronted with a number of
facts about a mysterious murder must fit them together, even though their meaning and
relationship to one another is ambiguous and perhaps even contradictory. Using years of
experience, training, and good common sense, and the detective constructs a theory linking
those facts together so that they begin to make some sense and begin to tell their story. An
initial theory derived from the available facts then guides the detective in the search for
additional facts in a series of “if this is true, then this should be true” statements. There may
be many false starts as our detective misinterprets some facts, fails to uncover others, and
considers some to be relevant when they are not. Good detectives, like good scientists, will
adjust their theory as new facts warrant; poor detectives and poor scientists will stand by their
favoured theory by not looking for more facts or by ignoring, downplaying, or hiding
contrary facts that come to their attention. When detectives do this, innocent people suffer
and guilty people remain undiscovered; when scientists do this, the progress of science

The physical and natural sciences enjoy a great deal of agreement about what constitutes the
core body of knowledge within their disciplines; thus, they have few competing theories.
Within criminology there is little agreement about the nature of the phenomena we study, and
so we suffer an embarrassment of theoretical riches. Given the number of criminological
theories, students may be forgiven for asking which one is true. Scientists never use the term

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“truth” in scientific discourse; rather, they tend to ask which theory is most useful. Criteria
for judging the merits of a theory are summarized below:

1. Predictive Accuracy: A theory has merit and is useful to the extent that it accurately
predicts what is observed. That is, the theory has generated a large number of research
hypotheses that have supported it. This is the most important criterion.
2. Predictive Scope: Predictive scope is the scope or range of the theory and thus the
scope or range of the hypotheses that can be derived from it. That is, how much of the
empirical world falls under the explanatory umbrella of theory A compared to how
much falls under theory B.
3. Simplicity: If two competing theories are essentially equal in terms of the first two
criteria, then the less complicated one is considered more “elegant.”
4. Falsifiability: A theory is never proven true, but it must have the quality of being
falsifiable or disprovable. If a theory is formulated in such a way that no amount of
evidence could possibly falsify it, then the theory is of little use (Ellis, 1994, pp. 202–


Classical theory is a product of the Enlightenment period or the age of reason, a period of
history that began in the late 1500s and lasted until the late 1700s. The enlightenment
thinkers rejected the belief that either the nature of the world or the behaviour of the people in
it was divinely ordained or predetermined. Instead, they believed that individual criminals
engage in a process of rational calculative decision making in choosing how to commit crime.
This view is under spinned by two further assumptions. First those individuals have free will
or the ability to choose any course of action, for which they are completely responsible.
Second, human behaviour was considered motivated by a hedonistic rationality in which a
person weighs the potential pleasure of an action against the possible pain associated with it.

In that view, human beings commit crime because they rationally calculate that the crime will
give them more pleasure than pain. These ideas, in their initial formulation, were important in
that they shifted attention towards punishing the offensive behaviour rather than punishing
the individual’s social or physical characteristics in and of themselves. This shift
consequently had an enormous influence on changing attitudes towards punishment and
towards the purpose of the law and the legal system. Classical criminology was concerned
with protecting the rights of human kind from the corruption and excesses of the existing

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legal institutions. Horrible and severe punishments were common both before and during the
enlightenment. Classical ideas about crime and punishment can be found in the works of a
number of different writers. The writings of Cesare Baccaria (1738 – 1794) and Jeremy
Bentham (1748-1832), however, were especially influential.

Beccaria, one of the best known of the classical criminologists, wrote and published
anonymously in 1764 his truly revolutionary work. An essay in crime and punishment (Die
Delittie delle Pene). The books are generally acknowledged to have had an enormous
practical influence on the establishment of a more humane system of criminal law and
procedure (Bohn and Haley 2002).

Beccaria proposed what we now call classical theory of criminology. He argues that the only
justified rationale for laws and punishment is based on the following principles.

1. The principle of utility. That is, the greatest happiness shared by the greatest number.
It means that the policy or law should be useful to large number of people in the
2. Social contract. The exponents of the social contract theory are Hooker (1554- 1600),
Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) John Locke (1632-1704) and Jean Jacques Ronsseau
(1712-1778) CassareBeccaria(1738-1794) argued that there was a contractual
relationship between the individual and the state. This relationship existed to prevent
chaos. As a part of this contractual relationship, individual’s give up some of their
liberties in the interest of the common good, with the purpose of the law being to
ensure that these common interests were met. For Beccaria, this meant that the law
should be limited in scope and written down so that people could make decisions on
how to behave (Walklate 2003).
3. Special or specific deterrence. Baccaria believed that the only legitimate purpose of
punishment is deterrence.To this end, punishment should be specific to the offender.
4. General deterrence is the use of the punishment against specific individual with a
view to prevent him or her or society at large from engaging in crime. Beccaria
argued that punishment was to fit the crime not the individual and was to be certain
and swift. The guiding principle of the criminal justice process, it was argued, was the
presumption of innocence and in this general framework; punishment was to be seen
as deterrence to criminal behaviour.

Beccaria recommended four other ways to prevent or to deter crime:

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1. To enact laws that are clear, simple and that reflect the consensus of the population.
2. To educate the public. Beccaria assured that the more educated people are, the less
likely they are to commit crimes.
3. To eliminate corruption from the administration of justice.
4. To reward virtue. It is also important to reward law-abiding behaviour. He stated that
such rewards might include public recognition of people who have not been convicted
of a crime.


Classical criminologist’s ideas were very influential in reforming criminal codes and
informing legislative changes in a number of differential social contexts. Classical theorists
were responsible for the first attempt to create systematic knowledge about law, crime and
punishment. In fact, many ideas of the classical school of thought are still being followed in
our courts all over the country.

Some critics have argued that the changes advocated by the classical criminology did not
accommodate the issue of children’s criminal behaviour. It did not also solve the rising crime
rate. In fact crime was still becomingly problematic. Hence the idea of individuals being
motivated by hedonism and freewill lost some of its popularity. The classical theory believes
in notion of consensus rather than conflict between groups in society.


Neoclassical theory of crime is the modification of classical theory. Neoclassical theories

deviate from the classical theory based on the difference in assumption about freewill. In the
neoclassical revision, that amount of freewill is not evenly distributed; there are certain
conditions when the individual will not be acting out of his or her freewill. It was considered
that certain factors such as insanity, children, senile and provocation might against it exercise
of freewill. The application of classical theory to treatment of all offenders alike did not
represent justice because individual differences and unique nature of offences militated
against the same treatment.

Neo-classical theory modified classical theory had two practical effects on criminal justice

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1. They provided a reason for non-legal experts such as medical doctors to testify in the
court as to the degree of diminished responsibility of an offender.
2. Offenders began to be sentenced to punishments that were considered rehabilitative.


Positivist criminology grew out of positive philosophy and logic and basic methodology of
empirical or experimental science. Auguste Comte who was credited as the founder of
sociology belongs to this school. Comte and others argued that the period of enlightenment
had contributed to progress by helping to break up the old system but the period had outlived
their usefulness and had become obstructive. Positivist saw human, not as free willed, self-
determining creature, but being whose action was determined by biological and cultural

The following are key assumptions of the positivist school of thought:

1. Human behaviour is determined and not a master of free will. Consequently, the
positivists focus on cause and effect relationships.
2. Criminals are fundamentally different from non-criminals positivists search for such
difference by scientific methods.
3. Social scientists (including criminologist) can be objective or value neutral in their
4. Crime is frequently caused by multiple factors.
5. Society is based on consensus but not on a social contract.

As the social sciences developed and social scientists directed their attention to the problem
of crime, they adopted, for the most part, positivist assumptions. For example, theories of
crime were based on biological positivism, psychological positivism, and sociological
positivism and so on, at different ages.

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Definition of Criminology
Criminology can be simply defined as the study of the crime.

Webster1 defines the criminology that "the scientific study of crime and criminals. ”

However, we must also acknowledge that this definition is as inadequate as it is succinct.

Edwin Sutherland has offered what remains a more or less acceptable definition of
criminology, one that is quoted with approval by Wolfgang and Ferracuti:

“Criminology is the body of knowledge regarding crime as a social phenomenon. It includes

within its scope the process of making laws, of breaking laws, and of reacting toward the
breaking of laws. The objective of criminology is the development of a body of general and
verified principles and other types of knowledge regarding this process of law, crime, and

To this definition, Wolfgang and Ferracuti append a note that "the term criminology should
be used at designate a body of scientific knowledge about crime (emphasis in original).

Some might raise the question whether criminology is the body of knowledge on the
phenomenon of crime or the study of it. Thorsten Sellin suggests that the term be used to
designate both "the body of scientific knowledge and the deliberate pursuit of such
knowledge."2 However criminology is a science which is widely studied for its' own sake,
just like other sciences; crime and criminals are not a bit less interesting than stars or

But this point of view is secondary as compared with the practical aspect, just as in the case
of medical science. Indeed, comparison with the latter repeatedly suggests itself.

Criminology is an academic discipline that makes use of scientific methods to study the
nature, extent cause and control of criminal behaviour.

Wilson Thomas P. "Conceptions of Interaction and Forms of Sociological Explanation." American
Sociological Review 35 (August 1970), pp.: 697-710; George Rusche and Otto Kirchheimer, Punishment and
Social Structure (New York: Columbia University Press, 1939), p. 50; Rudoff, Alvin. "The Soaring Crime Rate:
An Etiological View." Journal of Criminal Law, Criminology, and Police Science (December 1971),
pp.: 543- 547; Cohen, Albert K. "Sociological Research in Juvenile Delinquency." American Journal of Ortho-
Psychiatry 27 (October 1957), pp.: 781-788; Cohen, Morris R., and Ernest Nagel. An Introduction to Logic and
Scientific Method. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1934, pp: 131-154.

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Edwin Sutherland and Donald Cressey define criminology as the body of knowledge
regarding crime as a social phenomenon. It includes within its scope the processes of making
laws, of breaking laws and or reacting toward the breaking of laws. The objective of
criminology is the development of a body of general and verified principles and of other
types of knowledge regarding this process of law, crime and treatment.

From the definition given by Edwin Sutherland and Donald Cressey, the most important areas
of criminology include:

1. The development of criminal law and its use to define crime

2. The cause of law violation and
3. The methods used to control criminal behaviour.

Criminologists use objectives research methods to pose research questions (hypotheses),

gather data, create theories and test their validity. Criminology is essentially an
interdisciplinary science. Criminologists have been trained in diverse field’s most commonly
sociology, but also criminal justice, political science, psychology, economics and the natural

Criminology is also sometimes confused with the study of deviant behaviour. While Deviant
behaviour is behaviour that departs from social norms, criminal behaviour has to do with
violation of law. To understand the nature and purpose law, criminologist study both the
process by which deviant acts are criminalized and become crimes.

Criminology ought before anything to show humanity the way to combat, and especially,
prevent, crime. What is required more than anything is sound knowledge, whereas up to the
present we have had far too much of dogma and dilettantism. Whoever is in close touch with
what is called socio-pathological phenomena should make a note of these especially criminal
jurists, whose knowledge of the law imperatively needs to be supplemented with that of the
subject-matter with which it has to deal.3

Hood, Roger, and Richard Sparks. Key Issues in Criminology. New York: World University Library, 1970, pp:
45-49; Jeffery, Clarence Ray. "The Historical Development in Criminology." In Hermann Mannheim, Ed.,
Pioneers in Criminology. Montclair, N.J.: Patterson Smith, 1966, pp: 102-109; Jones, David A.
Crime and Criminal Responsibility. Chicago: Nelson Hall, 1978, pp: 67-69; Kadish, Sanford H., and Monrad G.
Paulsen. Criminal Law and Its Processes. 3rd ed. Boston: Little, Brown, 1975, pp: 77-81; Korn, Richard R., and
Lloyd W. McCorkle. Criminology and Penology. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1959, pp: 131-134;
Lafave, Wayne R., and Austin W. Scott, Jr. Criminal Law. St. Paul, Minn.: West, 1972, pp: 161-164;
Mannheim, Hermann. Comparative Criminology. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1965, pp: 32-35; Pound, Roscoe.
The Spirit of the Common Law. Boston: Beacon, 1963, p: 35; Reckless, Walter C. "American Criminology."

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Criminology is an academic discipline that makes use of scientific methods to study the
nature, extent cause and control of criminal behaviour. Edwin Sutherland and Donald Cressey
define criminology as the body of knowledge regarding crime as a social phenomenon. It
includes within its scope the processes of making laws, of breaking laws and or reacting
toward the breaking of laws. The objective of criminology is the development of a body of
general and verified principles and of other types of knowledge regarding this process of law,
crime and treatment. From the definition given by Edwin Sutherland and Donald Cressey, the
most important areas of criminology include:

1. The development of criminal law and its use to define crime

2. The cause of law violation and
3. The methods used to control criminal behaviour.

Criminologists use objectives research methods to pose research questions (hypotheses),

gather data, create theories and test their validity. Criminology is essentially an
interdisciplinary science. Criminologists have been trained in diverse fields most commonly
sociology, but also criminal justice, political science, psychology, economics and the natural
sciences. Criminology is also sometimes confused with the study of deviant behaviour. While
Deviant behaviour is behaviour that departs from social norms, criminal behaviour has to do
with violation of law. To understand the nature and purpose law, criminologist study both the
process by which deviant acts are criminalized and become crimes.


The term “criminology” is used both in a general and special sense. In its broadest sense
criminology is the study (not yet the complete science) which includes all the subject matter
necessary to the understanding and prevention of crime and to the development of law,
together with the punishment or treatment of delinquents and criminals. In its narrower sense
criminology is simply the study which attempts to explain crime, to find our “how they get

Criminology 8 (May 1970), pp.: 4-20; Schafer, Stephen. Theories in Criminology. New York: Random House,
1969, pp: 122-126; Schur, Edwin M. Law and Society. New York: Random House, 1969, pp: 34-38; Bell,
Daniel. "Crime as an American Way of Life." Antioch Review 13 (June 1953),pp.: 38-39; Black, Donald J.
"Production of Crime Rates." American Sociological Review 35 (August 1970), pp: 733-748; Slwaski, Carol J.
"Crime Causation: Toward a Field Synthesis." Criminology (February 1971), pp: 375-396. - Radzinowicz, Sir
Leon, and Joan King. The Growth of Crime: The International Experience. New York: Basic Books, 1977;
Robison, Sophia M. "A Critical View of the Uniform Crime Reports." Michigan Law Review 54 (April 1966),

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that away.” If this latter narrower definition is adopted, one must recognize related fields,
including penology, concerned with the treatment of adult criminals, crime detection, the
treatment of juvenile delinquents, and the prevention of crime. The treatment of delinquency
and crime cannot be wholly separated from their explanation, since one of the reasons for
crime and for its continuance into adult life is the damage done by ineffective treatment both
of juveniles and adults. Ultimately we shall hope to show that both crime and the treatment of
crime are parts of dynamic processes of social relations, crime evoking punishment and other
reactions and these reactions in turn cooking reactions of criminals as they are deterred,
“reformed,” or stimulated to further crime.

If any science is to explain any kind of phenomena consistently, these phenomena must be
reasonably homogenous. Criminology as a behavioral science or study faces an almost
unsolvable difficultly because of the extreme diversity of types of behavior our legislators
have seen fit to make punishable as crimes. To mention but a few of these types, does it seem
logical that we should be able to explain in terms of a common theory behavior as diverse as
the running of stop lights, the raping of women, robbery, huge racketeering syndicates,
treason, murder, and the white-collar crimes of some businessmen? Not all of these crimes
express the same attitudes of mind, not even a universal consciously antisocial attitude. Not
all are conflict behavior, or exploitative behavior, or either wholly rational or wholly
emotional behavior. Facing this dilemma, criminologists have attempted various solutions.
Valuable research has concentrated its attention on particular kinds of crime, such as
professional thieving, embezzlement, murder, sex crime and white-collar crime. Cressey has
gone further and believes he has arrived at sociologically meaningful subdivisions by
isolating types of embezzlement.

Cressery’s plan would seem to lead us to theories as to the causes of specific crimes, rather
than to any general theory of crime. Other criminologists, such as E. H. Sutherland, have tried
to discover processes or relationships which will explain all crime, in spite of its great
variety. Thus we have theories of social disorganization and differential association, theories
of delayed maturation, theories of economic exploitation, theories of anomie or normlessness,
theories of subgroup influence, and so forth. But we shall find that it seems that not all crime
can be explained in terms of any given social process or relationship. Very many
criminologists have given much of the effort to find a single theory explaining crime without
having abandoned the effort to discover why men commit crime. Starting with evidence
derived from case studies and many other sources, they list factors found in the life processes

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of criminals. They are able to determine fairly well the interrelationship of these factors in
individual cases. They then find particular factors which often repeat themselves in many
cases, such, for example, as gang membership, lack of status in constructive groups, tensions
in homes, and sense of failure in competition.

Discovery of such single repeating factors does not prove them causes of crime, since the
meaning of any life experience may be different for one criminal than for another. This is
because one factor or experience is, in different cases, combined with different accompanying
factors which give the total gestalt and meaning which express themselves in criminal
behavior. However, it is very significant when we find clusters of factors repeating
themselves in many cases. The multifactor approach does seem to meet the dilemma of the
criminologist in considerable measure. A large proportion of children in our type of society
whose fathers have deserted the home, who have lived in city slums, who have experienced a
sense of failure in competitive relations, who have lost status in constructive groups and
joined juvenile gangs, who have come to believe that everyone has a racket, and whose early
misbehavior has not been dealt with effectively either in the home or by schools and other
social agencies - a large proportion of such children seem to appear continually in our
juvenile courts, and many of them later in our adult courts. The discovery of repeated
incidents of such combinations of experiences enables us to develop approximations to
theories of crime. Such specific life experiences may often be shown to be by-products of the
culture of our society.

Nature and extent of criminology

Criminology draws on the range of human and social science disciplines. The subject is
evolving in its theoretical and methodological development, reflecting the rapid social
changes it tries to capture and the increasing cross-fertilization of ideas and methods between
the human sciences. In its modern forms, it is characterised by robust debates over how to:

 conceptualize and explain its subject matter

 operationalize its theories in conducting research
 inform debates over crime control policy, the scope of human rights, the links
between criminal and social justice, and the expanding knowledge bases of the crime
prevention, security, policing and justice-related professions
 develop and enhance its methodological and technical expertise

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 Manage the sensitive ethical issues arising from empirical research.

Criminology is both a theoretical and an empirical discipline. At the heart of criminology are
theoretical debates about a wide range of perspectives. Criminology emphasises the
importance both of theoretical work and of a firm evidence base for its theories. It also
engages in formal and critical evaluation of crime prevention, security and crime control
policies, as well as of other responses to crime and deviance. However, in furthering these
values, it needs to nurture a lively debate and dialogue between a range of theoretical and
methodological perspectives, employing both quantitative and qualitative data. It must guard
against attempts to foreclose this dialogue with the premature creation of theoretical or
methodological protocols favouring particular sub-discipline fields, whether endorsed by
state officials, by the mass media, or by fashions of academic thought.

Empirically, criminology is concerned with:

 processes of criminalization and victimization

 the causes and organization of crime and deviance
 processes of preventing and managing crime and victimization
 official and unofficial responses to crime, deviance and social harm
 Representations of crime, offenders, victims and agents and agencies of control.

Given its strong policy orientation and close relationship with the criminal justice
professions, many of criminology's most significant theoretical advances have been made
through empirical studies. Criminology also contributes to and benefits from continuous
theoretical debates within the social sciences. The vitality of the discipline also requires a
continuous interchange between theory and analytic and evaluative research, and attention to
increasingly salient ethical debates about crime, security, and human rights at international,
national, regional and local levels.

Criminology is intrinsically a reflexive discipline, involving an understanding of contested

values in the constitution and application of criminological knowledge.

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 Criminology is the scientific study of crime and criminals. It is an interdisciplinary/
multidisciplinary study, although criminology has yet to integrate these disciplines in
any comprehensive way.
 The definition of crime is problematic because acts that are defined as criminal vary
across time and culture. Many criminologists believe that because crimes are defined
into existence we cannot determine what real crimes are and criminals are. However,
there is a stationary core of crimes that are universally condemned and always have
been. These crimes are predatory crimes that cause serious harm and are defined as
mala in se, or ‘inherently bad’ crimes, as opposed to mala prohibita “bad because
they are forbidden” crimes.
 The history of criminology shows that the cultural and intellectual climate of the time
strongly influences how scholars think about and study crime and criminality. The
Renaissance brought more secular thinking, the Enlightenment more humane and
rational thinking, the Industrial Revolution brought with it more scientific thinking,
and the Progressive Era saw a reform-oriented criminology reminiscent of the
classical school.
 Advances in any science are also constrained by the tools available to test theories.
The ever-improving concepts, methods, and techniques available from modern
genetics, neuroscience, and other biological sciences should add immeasurably to
criminology’s knowledge base in the near future.
 Theory is the ‘bread and butter’ of any science, including criminology. There are
many contending theories seeking to explain crime and criminality. Although we do
not observe such theoretical disagreement in the more established sciences, the
social/behavioral sciences are young, and human behavior is extremely difficult to
 When judging among the various theories, we have to keep certain things in mind,
including predictive accuracy, scope, simplicity, and falsifiability. We must also
remember that crime and criminality can be discussed at many levels (social,
subcultural, family, or individual) and that a theory that may do a good job of
predicting crime at one level may do a poor job at another level.

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 Theories can also be offered at different temporal levels. They may focus on the
evolutionary history of the species (the most ultimate level), the individual’s
subjective appraisal of a situation (the most proximate level), or any other temporal
level in between. A full account of an individual’s behavior may have to take all these
levels into consideration because any behavior arises from an individual’s
propensities interacting with the current environmental situation as that individual
perceives it. This is why we approach the study of crime and criminality from social,
psychosocial, and biosocial perspectives.
 Criminologists have not traditionally done this, preferring instead to examine only
aspects of criminal behavior that they find congenial to their ideology and,
unfortunately, often maligning those who focus on other aspects. The main dividing
line in criminology has separated conservatives (who tend to favor explanations of
behavior that focus on the individual) and liberals (who tend to favor structural or
cultural explanations). The theories favored by criminologists are strongly correlated
with sociopolitical ideology.
 All theories have explicit or implicit recommendations for policy because they posit
causes of crime or criminality. Removing those alleged causes should reduce crime, if
the theory is correct, but the complex nature of crime and criminality makes policy
decisions based on theory very risky indeed. Policymakers must consider many other
issues demanding scarce resources, so the policy content of a theory should never be
used to pass judgment on the usefulness of theory for criminologists.

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 Schmalleger, F (2004) Criminal Justice. A brief introduction

New Jersey
 Pearson Prentice Hall.
 Molan T. M (2003) Criminal law, London The HLT Group ltd.
 Seigel L.J (2006) Criminology, Belmont Thomson Wadsworth

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