There can be many reasons why you might choose to study criminology. The route, for many, can be traced back to studying sociology at school. While others may have realised they want to pursue jobs in criminal justice after university, once they start their career. In this article, we’ll be looking at some of the different components of criminology and understand what it’s developed from.
It was only recently that, officially, criminology was recognised in its own right as a scientific discipline. However, it’s been unofficially studied within many cultures over thousands of years. In fact, any society where there has been some aspect of law and order must have had an element of criminology.
The academics (criminologists) of this field will study a variety of broad topics related to crime. Their focus won’t just be on the causality of crime, but also the impacts of crime, mostly on a social level. When studying sociology at A level, you might have taken a module looking at the social impact of a particular crime, or crime trends more generally. You may be considering studying sociology at university. If so, and it was these crime based modules that most interests you, it might be worth researching criminology degrees too.
To unpack what these topics that relate to crime are, it helps to look at what criminology’s scope is. Simply put, criminologist are looking at all aspects that both cause deviant behaviour and the fallout of this behaviour. This might be done by looking at trends such as the frequency, location, causes, and types of crimes. Then, on a micro level, it’ll be looking at the social and individual impacts of crime, and the individual, social, and governmental reactions to crimes.
There can be a lot of subjective views when it comes to something as broad and something of a taboo as deviant behaviour. In terms of criminology, this can be broken down into three main schools of thought: the classical school (based on pleasure over pain, and punishment being used as a method to deter crime), the positivist school (questions the simplicity of the classical methods, points to external factors outside of an individual’s control), and the Chicago school (looks at how behaviour is determined by social structure, puts more emphasis on external and psychological factors). Each of these schools of thought offer different reasons to both causality and solution when it comes to crime. Largely though, it’s a simple case of nuance developing as we have developed our understanding of the complexity, in terms of factors, when it comes to crime.