The moment we hear the word 'criminology', the picture of cornering crooks comes to mind. This field of social science does not deal with equipping one another to nail men, women, children or organizations involved in crime.
This thought-provoking, socially meaningful and fascinating field of study involves a scientific analysis of criminal behavior, of the criminalization process as well as of the social control processes. This applied discipline involves in-depth research pertaining to conflict resolution in society.
Universities provide various courses on criminology by which students learn the nature and dynamics of rule breaking and also become aware of the different theories and methods essential for understanding the realities of crime and its control better.
What is Criminology About
We already know that criminology does not deal with plotting different methods of nabbing criminals. Then what is the criminology theory? It's a lake in which water from different streams such as sociology, psychology, decision theory, anthropology, law, systems analysis and design flow into and unite.
To hit the nail on the head and to understand the term criminology, we need to ask the question, 'why'? Criminology theory asks the question why and what triggers people to commit the crimes they do. It's more like going beyond what human eyes can see and discovering what lies behind the scene.
Criminology does not fancy waving off the smoke, but identifying the root cause of the illegal activity. This study considers various factors that could have influenced the person or a group of people to commit crimes. Factors such as dysfunctional families, sexual abuse, illiteracy, poverty, etc., can be conducive to emergence of criminals.
Thus, criminology is not about pinning the criminal with his crime and pronouncing him guilty, but is the effort taken to try to understand the psychology of the person before, during and after he or she committed the crime.
Criminology also focuses on how crime and lawlessness affects different levels of society. Crime no matter where, how and when it is committed has consequences. While some crimes leaves scars for life on the lives of millions, some conduce to temporary damage.
Nevertheless, they all have consequences. Studying and analyzing these consequences on the victims, neighborhood and even the criminal himself or herself is a part of criminology.
What is Criminology and Criminal Justice
Criminology deals with studying the legal system with its law enforcement and crime deterrence policies. Criminologists who provide theoretical explanations of offensive and criminal behavior and seek various ways to prevent illegal activities by conducting in-depth research on the causative factors conducing to criminal behavior.
They even analyze the pros and cons of death penalty and life imprisonment and try to come to a conclusion about which is a better crime deterrent. Thus, here analyzing police operations, politics of crime, courts of law, media coverage of crime, etc. comes into picture.
What is Critical Criminology
Critical criminology depends on economic explanations of behavior and states that criminal behavior stems from economic and social inequalities. This theory states that crime from society cannot be eliminated within the capitalist system.
Moreover, as long as the ruling class is able to manipulate the legal system, crime rates will not deteriorate. Thus, critical criminology does not focus on individual criminals, but focuses on overall social harm and social justice issues including race, gender, class, etc.
Different Approaches to Criminology
The Classicists Approach
Classicists believe that every human has the ability to make decisions and is responsible for his or her actions. Thus, if a person takes the wrong decision and breaks the law, he or she by default is to be punished. Punishment succeeds crime is what they say.
They even move on to say that having penalties in the criminal justice system will help keep a tab on the number of crimes, such that people due to the fear of punishment will avoid committing crimes.
According to positivists, humans react the way they do because of certain internal and external influences. These influences sometimes cause the person to lose control and take extreme decisions he or she normally would not have taken.
Studying criminology helps us understand the realities of crime and its control in a deeper manner. It also equips us with practical measures to enable us to contribute and make a difference in such areas of life. It gives us the broader picture of crime happening in our society.
Criminology is a challenging, vast and intriguing subject that one needs to delve into to understand it better. It's something like the ocean. Until you go and swim into it, you cannot fully comprehend how vast and profound it is.